Nicky Hayden hits back at Alberto Puig attack

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Nicky Hayden has hit back at fierce criticism from Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa’s manager Alberto Puig in Malaysia today.

Outspoken Puig launched an incredible attack on Hayden last week, claiming the American copied Pedrosa’s machine settings and belittled his performances, even when he won the 2006 MotoGP world title.

Although reluctant to get into a public slanging match with Puig, Hayden couldn’t resist responding to the stinging criticism as he prepares for his penultimate race as Pedrosa’a team-mate in Sepang this weekend.

Hayden refuted suggestions that he can’t set up or develop a bike and that he relies heavily on coping the former double world 250 champion’s settings.

“Some of the stuff he says is a joke about sharing data and that’s why I’m mad. I haven’t seen his data for a long time. The truth is he sees everybody’s data, so lets be clear about that. If it’s me going fastest or (Andrea) Dovizioso going fastest, he sees everything.”

Puig’s comments were apparently responding to an interview Hayden did with Madrid-based newspaper El Pais recently, which is one of Spain’s biggest national newspapers.

Hayden said: “It certainly seemed to ruffle a few feathers but I’m not really wanting to go back and have a cat fight back and forth with this guy and defend against everything he said. I’m not even sure what I said but I did say Puig basically runs our team, he runs HRC at the moment and I really believe that and I stand by that.

“I do think (Kazuhika) Yamano, our team manager, has done a great job. That guy is in a tough, tough spot and I know he’s got a lot of heat coming at him from all directions, so that’s basically what I said. I need to quit being a hypocrite I guess.”

Hayden also denied rubbishing Pedrosa over his controversial move to Bridgestone tyres immediately after the Misano race in early September.

And he said he was untroubled by the dividing wall that splits the Repsol Honda garage since the switch, which Puig had said Hayden was upset about.

“That wall I couldn’t care less about. It doesn’t even faze me one little bit, said Hayden, who has claimed two podiums in the three races since Pedrosa quit Michelin.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt