American Nicky Hayden has spoken of his relief at escaping serious injury in a terrifying high-speed crash in Jerez today.
The 2006 world champion recovered superbly from a horrific 132mph crash in the second free practice session to claim a place on the second row of the grid for tomorrow’s Spanish MotoGP race.
Hayden rolled through the gravel trap several times after he lost control of his factory Ducati GP10 at a high-speed left-hander immediately after the Curva Dry Sack hairpin.
Explaining his crash, Hayden told MCN: "I was feeling pretty good at that corner and the front just let go and then both ends came around. I was probably going too fast and I was going faster than Casey through there.
"On that lap I wasn't on a personal best and I had a used front tyre but I just lost the front. I almost did the same thing here last year in testing but I saved it. So luckily I let go and didn't try to hold it."
Hayden admitted he was lucky to have walked away with several cuts and bruises, some which were clearly visible as he spoke to the media in the Ducati hospitality tonight.
He added: “Overall I'm happy because it could have been a lot worse, I had a pretty good get off. And in qualifying we had a lot of little problems and I had to switch bikes to the one I crashed which wasn't completely ready to go. The team worked like dogs today. There wasn't a lunch break for those guys.
"The bike is working well and I think if things had gone a little smoother this afternoon the front row wasn't out of the question, so at least I salvaged something with fifth. But it’s never good crashing at 132 mph through the gravel.
"It’s not like falling in the pool and it doesn't do the body or team any good. I was bouncing and rolling and thinking ‘man, stay awake, stay awake’ with every tumble. I hit my head pretty hard and my helmet is trashed.”
Despite his big crash this morning, Hayden’s pace this afternoon has boosted his confidence of another strong showing in tomorrow’s race.
He was a superb fourth in the season’s opening race in Qatar last month and he told MCN: “I'm never over confident but I've had steady race pace and even this morning after I went back after the crash and got back into the 40s.
"I'm missing a little bit of grip on the edge with the hard tyre and 27-laps here is a lot for the tyre. I feel good and if I get away with them I'll try and hang in there. It would be awesome and fun to be at the front but it won't be easy."