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Hayden: Rossi is one bad dude!

Nicky Hayden, who ended Valentino Rossi's five-year MotoGP reign in 2006, was quick to congratulate the Italian on his return to the top at Motegi on Sunday, when the Italian wrapped up his sixth premier-class crown with victory in the Japanese Grand Prix.

"Congratulations to Valentino. I know what it takes to win one and it takes a bad dude to win six of them!" said Hayden, team-mate to Rossi during his debut 2003 MotoGP season. "Much respect."

Hayden had qualified once place ahead of Rossi in third, a position he maintained on the opening lap, before slipping back to fifth. The Repsol Honda rider then fought a frantic rearguard action to fend off Loris Capirossi, Colin Edwards, Shinya Nakano and Andrea Dovizioso in the closing stages.

"We had hoped to be a little bit faster today, but unfortunately the bike was moving around a lot on the exit of the corner," said Nicky. "It felt really unstable and worked the tyre a lot. Basically it was all I could do to hold on to fifth.

"Those guys were coming at me pretty hard, there was a whole pack of them coming for me. I would have liked to put up a better fight. Front row, then top five - I guess it's not a disastrous weekend, but I expect a lot," he admitted.

On the grid Hayden wore a hachimaki, a Japanese-style bandana, given to him by a fan. "The bandana I wore on the grid, some fan gave it to me yesterday," he explained. "I wore it for qualifying and got on the front row, so I figured, try it again."

"Nicky rode hard today but didn't quite have the pace to run with the leading group," said team manager Kazuhiko Yamano. "Now we go to Phillip Island, a track that Nicky really loves. We know he will do his best to get back on the podium there."

Hayden's Bridgestone-shod team-mate Dani Pedrosa finished third.


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Ian O - Unregistered

September 29, 2008 2:14 PM

Yep - I'm always impressed when a competitor shows due respect to rivals and it sounds like Nicky is genuinely admiring Valentino from the heart. There are some very fine men in MotoGP indeed. More of the same please! Nicky makes a fan of me just with his attitude.



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