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Hayden: I love Phillip Island!

He describes it as 'probably the hardest track in the world on tyres', but Nicky Hayden is anticipating his return to Phillip Island for the Australian Grand Prix as the 2008 MotoGP season reaches its closing stages.

Hayden has reached a decent patch of form of late, his podium in Indianapolis and top five finish in Japan at the weekend reviving a season that has otherwise been a struggle for the Repsol Honda man.

However, with the pneumatic Honda coming on leaps and bounds recently and Hayden seemingly re-motivated following the confirmation he will race in Ducati colours next year, the American is up to eighth in the standings, just three points behind sixth place Colin Edwards.

He has a good chance to leapfrog Edwards, as well as Chris Vermeulen, too as he returns to a popular circuit that has played host to two pole positions and two podium finishes in the past.

“I love Phillip Island,” he said. “I don't think there's a better racetrack in the world, but I wish we could race there when the weather's a little bit better – sometimes it can be more like Phillip Iceland than Phillip Island. A lot of tracks they keep slowing them down, adding chicanes for safety, but this one you can really turn it on.

“There's some real fast stuff, so it's a track where you can get in a rhythm when the bike's working and go fast, and when the bike's not working you can be pretty slow. You spend a lot of time on the edge of the tyres, so it's probably the hardest track in the world for tyres, so we'll work with my Michelin guys to get the best tyres for the race.

“I've had some good results there: a couple of pole positions, a second and a third, but I've never won one there. You need a bike set-up that saves the tyres, plus you need to be able to steer through the long corners and change direction too. It's easy to lower the rear and soften things up to get traction, but then you lose the steering.”

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