MotoGP: Hayden relishing Grand Prix return

Published: 23 September 2016

World Superbike rider and former MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden says he’s relishing the opportunity to return to the premiere class this weekend at Aragon, as he joins the Marc VDS squad as a replacement for the injured Jack Miller.

Returning for the first time since his move to WSB at the end of last year – and his first time on a full-factory specification machine since the Ducati in 2013, he’s curious to see what he can do.

“I don’t like to come back replacing a guy who’s hurt, especially Jack, a buddy of mine. I’m happy to be here, to have the opportunity – but let’s be clear; it isn’t a comeback! Superbikes are my home now and my goals are there. But I had the chance to come ride a good bike with a good team and Honda was behind it.

“I’m excited, and very curious to see the bike and to have a go again. I like Superbikes, but its not like riding a MotoGP bike, and I hope I can get a good feeling quick enough to push and get to the limit and ride the bike where it’s fun!”

The return to MotoGP almost happened earlier this year, however, with the American on standby at Silverstone to potentially jump in and replace the injured Miller, even turning up to the British track with leathers in hand just in case – an occasion that he admits got him excited!

“I was going to ride there, and then it didn’t happen, and I was disappointed I didn’t get the chance. I wouldn’t have went if I wasn’t interested in riding, and being there for the race gave me a little itch to get back again!”

But with missing the lion’s share of a big year of changes for the championship, the Kentucky Kid was also quick to point out that his goal from the weekend isn’t to stun the paddock with his pace.

“For me it just a chance to go and have fun. I’d probably be riding motorbikes anyway and I would definitely be watching the race on TV, so I might as well show up and have some fun. I know MotoGP is not a place that’s always easy to have fun because the level is so high but I’ve got a lot to learn and it won’t be a walk in the park.

“I haven’t ridden the bike and there are different tyres and electronics but I’ve got a lot of experience and I get another shot at MotoGP, which is great for me personally.”