Nicky Hayden branded the racing game 'cruel' after an early collision with Stefan Bradl ended his Italian MotoGP hopes on the fourth lap.

The American had found it difficult to replicate his strong Le Mans form at Mugello after an electrical fault saw him lose vital time on Friday afternoon.

Yet a day after qualifying 19th Hayden was able to set consistent times in morning warm-up and a lap before his crash - which he claimed to be a racing incident - posted a low 1m 49s time, a tenth faster than Scott Redding's best race lap.

Although uninjured in the spill, Hayden was doubly frustrated, believing another strong finish in and around the top ten would have been possible.

"It's a shame," said the 33-year old, now fourth overall in the 'Open' rider classification. "I had a really good start and the bike felt not too bad. We were with a lot of guys in there overtaking but the bike felt good.

"In turns four and five I was right on Bradl and he had a little slide. I touched the back of him. It was just a racing incident. When everybody is so close there was nowhere to go. I had already opened the gas so my hand was off the brake and I didn't have enough time to react. It is what it is.

"We made a little change on the front for the race and it felt better. I was trying to understand the front grip a couple of times on the front because we know that the temperature was up hotter and I expected worse grip. A couple of times I was staying on the brake to be prepared and the front was ok but I only did three laps.

"On the data the next lap I was already up a tenth on that lap. You know crashing is part of racing in a group but I wish it would have been in Argentina or somewhere I was 19th. Here today we had a good pace.

"Even this morning I didn't have one single fast lap but I stayed out the whole time on pretty used tyres and was able to constantly stay in the 49s all the way to the last lap. But, you know, this game is cruel."

As fellow-Honda runners Marc Marquez and Cal Crutchlow crashed out of the action with front-end falls, Hayden said the feel on his current machine is ok compared to his Ducati days. Rear grip is more of an issue.

"That's not my biggest problem at the moment. Everybody'd like more front feel and turning but if I go back to my Ducati days... This week we played with it a bit because of some of the downhill corners. I struggled more with the rear grip than the front. If you don't have great rear grip that normally means the front's not going to be a problem. If you got better rear grip the front's the problem. It's a balance."

When asked if he felt he was making progress at the season's one-third point, Hayden believes the electronics are taking less time to dial in on a Friday.

"Obviously Le Mans was good. This weekend was more of a struggle. The electronics, now we arrive a lot better on Friday. The first couple of races it was taking us a lot of time to work through the electronics.

"This is a big, open track where I don't think it's as critical as Jerez or Austin with all the little first, second gear corners. Here we don't even use first gear. But we've got to get a result to confirm anything."


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