Nicky Hayden predicts tough home race at Laguna Seca MotoGP

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Nicky Hayden has predicted he faces a tough home race in Laguna Seca today, despite qualifying on the front row of the grid.

The factory Honda rider will start the 32-lap clash from third behind Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi, but he has played down his hopes of claiming a third victory at the California circuit.

Hayden has found it tough to set a podium challenging pace on Michelin’s race tyres and he said: “Qualifying was difficult, there were many guys crashing. Qualifying is so important here because it’s so hard to pass, so some guys are willing to pay a big price for a good grid position.

"Our race pace isn’t exactly blazing but it’s really nice to be on the front row in front of the home crowd, the support is awesome. I know tomorrow’s going to be really tough, Casey [Stoner] is on fire right now and we’re having a few little issues, but the team’s done a good job and I feel like we deserve a good result.

"Hoping won’t get it though, so we’ll come in here tomorrow, ride hard and see if we can’t pull something out. I’m a little bit nervous. Truth is, the tyres we’ve got in our allocation are a little out of the range, so the warmer the better for us.

"We changed the bike a little bit to make the tyres work more and the qualifying tyres were awesome. Actually I felt like I maybe left a couple of tenths in them but I was running about as hard as I could.

"Hopefully we can put on a good show tomorrow and not let this guy disappear. A podium would be great, but to try to fight with Casey would be a long shot.

"We never give up, anything can happen when we line up, so we’ll come in here, try to have fun, try my hardest and I know I’ll have plenty of support. I’m looking forward to it.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt