MotoGP World Championship leader Nicky Hayden will head to his home US Grand Prix holding a comfortable, but shrinking, 26 point lead after finishing a close third in Sunday's German Grand Prix.

Unlike at Donington Park two weeks previously, Hayden was quick all weekend and looked in with a chance of victory until the very last corner as he stalked Marco Melandri and eventual race winner Valentino Rossi - with Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa on his own rear wheel as they crossed the finish line covered by just 0.3secs.

"We had a good battle today and I really enjoyed it," said Nicky. "Everybody rode well and fought hard and nobody gave an inch. Once I'd got past Dani then I thought that I might have a chance. I didn't want to overtake just one of Valentino and Marco, make a mistake and then let Dani get me again.

"Towards the end I knew the guys ahead were going to fight it out so I thought I had a good chance to get in front," he revealed. "On the last lap I thought Marco would go up the inside and maybe open the door at the bottom of the hill but he moved earlier than I thought.

"I'm not completely satisfied with third because this is a good track for me and I thought I had a shot at the win today, but I enjoyed the battle. The other guys did a great job and also a big thanks goes to everybody in my team. Though we couldn't quite get off the corners quick enough today, at other spots on the lap the bike was really good," he added.

Hayden now heads for next weekend's US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca - where he took an emotional debut home win one year ago.

"I'm really looking forward to going home - and I'm proud to be going to Laguna leading the points. We'll definitely be trying to get 25 more there," said the #69.



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