Luck and judgement helped Nicky Hayden take Ducati's first podium of the season in Sunday's dramatic Spanish MotoGP at Jerez.

Hayden was lucky in the sense that, during the closing stages of the wet race, two riders dropped out of a podium position ahead of him - Ben Spies due to a crash, Colin Edwards after technical problems.

But the #69 still needed to use considerable skill and judgement to keep his sliding Desmosedici ahead of Honda's Hiroshi Aoyama.

Lap times were around eight seconds slower by the end of the race, such was the rate of tyre wear, and Hayden felt the loss of grip as much as most.

To make matter's worse for Hayden, Aoyama was the fastest rider on track (bar the lapped Andrea Dovizioso) during the last four laps, allowing him to close by several seconds a lap on Hayden.

Nicky responded just when he needed to by being the second faster rider after Aoyama on the final lap, which allowed the 2006 MotoGP champion to claim third place by less than half-a-second from the 2009 250cc world champion.

"That wasn't necessarily a pretty win because my last laps were so slow when the tyres were worn, but we're on the podium, and I'm pretty happy about it!" smiled Hayden, after his 28th MotoGP podium and third as a Ducati rider.

"In the beginning, our bike was really good because I had a lot of traction.

"After a while, it was all about focus, and there was no room for error. The track was changing every corner, because there was rain in some parts and no rain in other parts. Also, the tyres and the lines kept changing.

"It certainly hasn't been an easy start to the season, so we'll take success any way we can get it. Big thanks to the team. Hopefully we can try to build on this, and it will be the little shot in the arm to help get us going.

"I know Ducati's not sleeping. They've got some work to do, but I think our bike is better than we've been showing. We've just been missing a little bit, but I'm confident we can still recover and have a good season."

"We're very happy because we got our first podium of the season with Nicky," added team manager Vittoriano Guareschi. "Nicky was very good at handling a difficult situation over the last ten laps when the tyres were finished and it would have been easy to throw it all away."

Hayden's podium helped make up for the disappointment of team-mate Valentino Rossi crashing, and then taking out Casey Stoner, while within sight of the lead on lap 8.



Loading Comments...