Nicky Hayden saw his proud record of scoring at least one podium in every season of his MotoGP career disappear in a disappointing conclusion to 2012 in Valencia yesterday.
Ever since he joined the Repsol Honda squad back in 2003, the popular American had made at least one visit each year to the rostrum, including three victories.
And when it looked like yesterday’s season finale in Valencia would be wet, many thought Hayden could keep his impressive record going after he had impressed in wet conditions earlier in the weekend.
Officials declared the race wet, but Hayden was one of four riders, including eventual winner Dani Pedrosa, to pit at the end of the warm-up lap for slick tyres.
It meant he had to start from pit lane but just as he was trying to pick his way through a big CRT battle, he crashed out of contention on the third lap.
The 2006 world champion told MCN: “It was a difficult last race and a difficult season. The race was a huge disappointment because with the weather I thought maybe we could do something good here to end the season but it didn’t happen.
"I did the warm up lap on wets and then I could see that the track was dry. (Jorge) Lorenzo was in front of me on slicks and he was riding away from us and I came in and switched bikes.
"I came off the last corner and waited and (Valentino) Rossi didn’t pull in. Dani did though but if both of them had gone to the grid I probably would have followed them. I saw Dani go in and it turned out to be the right decision.”
Hayden was trying to fight his way by Danilo Petrucci’s Suter-BMW when he tumbled out at the final corner and he added: “You come over that hill to the last corner and that lap I had passed a couple of people and was starting to feel good.
"But the problem was it was so hard to pass and to do it you had to go off line and I was behind Petrucci and really couldn’t find a hole. In the last corner I went a bit wide and was going to square him up and I hit a wet patch on the brakes and I was down.
"It was really early but it is hard to see the wet spots where it is so shiny. I got excited because I was much faster than Petrucci but I couldn’t get by. It was my fault and I got no real excuse.
"I felt I had a good chance and I was as fast as (Alvaro) Bautista and (Cal) Crutchlow, so didn’t want to let them get away but I made a silly mistake. But it is so easy to do it those conditions. There was a dry line but if you got off it you were in trouble.”
For more coverage from the Valencia MotoGP race, see the November 14 issue of Motor Cycle News.