Nicky Hayden was back in action for the first time in 2004, as he climbed aboard his Repsol-backed Honda RC211V for a test session at Malaysia's Sepang circuit.

The American star completed 57 laps of the 5.548km circuit on the first day of a scheduled three-day test, but had to abandon his programme early as rain ended the session prematurely. His best time was a 2min 04.8secs effort.

The 22-year old MotoGP rookie of the year claimed that he was back to full fitness after minor pre-Christmas surgery on the right thumb that he damaged in a fall at the last grand prix of the year in Valencia.

"It was great to get back on the bike and open the throttle after what has felt like quite a time," Hayden smiled, "It's good to see all the team again - it's exactly the same as last year, so it feels real comfortable.

We had a little difficulty at the start of the session, but quickly resolved it and started to have fun. I had hoped to carry on, but the rain came, so we packed up mid-afternoon. We've still got two days here, which is good. My hand has held up well today; feels a lil' weak but that's not surprising. It was a pretty good and enjoyable first day back."



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