Nicky Hayden's hopes of recording a top-ten finish in his first race for Repsol Honda since 2008 - and perhaps final appearance in MotoGP - were dashed by a late collision with Jack Miller.

Although the incident left the former world champion visibly frustrated, Hayden downplayed it. "It's racing. It can happen," he shrugged.

Hayden only received the call to deputise for the injured Dani Pedrosa in the team with which he won the 2006 title on Monday. And with rain falling throughout Friday and Saturday, Hayden had posted two dry laps before warm-up on Sunday.

All things considered, the fact Hayden was involved in a frantic seven-rider scrap for seventh position in the first place was impressive.

The American said Miller had come to apologise after the race, and quipped, "It's racing, it can happen. I don't want to go and give him a kiss, but you know, it happens.

"Of course I'm disappointed, you know. All the weekend I felt I did a pretty good job. They called me to come here on the Monday. I didn't arrive here until the Thursday night.

"Conditions were changing and I felt I didn't make too many mistakes. I felt I did what they wanted me to come and do. It's just a shame I couldn't finish. I felt the bike working better as the race went on.

"I really thought I could win that battle for seventh. I'm sure everyone in that group thought that they could win that battle. But, you know, I had a few places - especially on the right side - where my tyre was really good. I was ready to fight for the last couple of laps.

"You know, truthfully, I think Jack just wanted to beat me and the two Ducatis just wanted to beat each other. So for sure there were some hard moves and for sure some rubber exchanged but I didn't see anything, nothing too hard."

Comparing the Repsol Honda RC213V to the Marc VDS Honda he rode in Aragon, Hayden continued, "Riding in Aragon helped prepare me for this. We had a different set up on this bike that allowed me to get a lot more confident on the front immediately.

"We had a lot more weight on the front. It allowed me to brake a lot more and load the front tyre a lot more to give me more confidence. That was the biggest difference. The bike in the wet was amazing. We really didn't have to touch much.

"But in the dry we definitely needed a few tweaks to try and find the grip being that you have such a special tyre on the left. But this team, they were able to help me a lot. A few of the guys I've worked with before. A few of the guys I joked were on Dani's side before, and now working with them seemed different."


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