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Hayden thanks Honda for not `folding` on him.

Nicky Hayden has thanked Honda for their professionalism in helping maintain his decent run of form, despite his imminent departure to Ducati.

Hayden's performances have been fractured since his title win in 2006, but a run of three top five results – including two podiums – have occurred in recent races, lifting him up to sixth place in the overall standings and on the cusp of fifth too.

Indeed, Hayden admits it would have been easy for Honda to 'fold up' on him once he had confirmed he was Ducati bound for 2009, but he has praised them for helping him gain momentum in the closing stages of the season.

“The last few races have been a lot of fun and made me pretty happy,” he said. “We need more, but it's nice to be competitive.

"I owe a big thanks to everyone involved – Honda, Michelin and all the guys from Yamano [Repsol Honda team manager] all the way through, because it would have been real easy to fold up on me, but the easy way is just not our style. Just need to keep it rolling!"

Looking ahead to the next round in Malaysia, Hayden is excited by the return to Sepang, a popular testing venue and a circuit the American rider enjoys.

“No one can say they say they don't know Sepang, it seems like we spend half the year there. Last year we did three tests and a race there, so the nearby airport hotel is like your second home. We spend about four weeks a year there, so you walk in and it's scary because the people know you!

“Sepang is a great track. I like it, our bike has been running good, and you need a bike that's running fast there. The track has got a little bit of everything: some hard braking, some pretty quick corners like turns five and six. I think that's why we test there so much, you can't fake it there because both the bike and the rider have got to be able to do everything pretty good.”

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