Nicky Hayden looking to build on Indy podium

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Nicky Hayden is hoping to use his first podium finish in 15 months in Indianapolis earlier this month as a springboard for more success as he prepares to enter the last four races of his Honda career.

Hayden’s move to Ducati was finally confirmed earlier this week, and his first appearance since the official announcement will be in Honda’s home race at the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan.

And the American is looking for another top three finish to bow out of HRC in style having been with the Repsol-backed works team since 2003.

“Indy gave us a little bit of a boost, so we’ll see if we can keep that going at Motegi. I’m looking forward to it because I’m planning on finishing the season strong. I owe that to Honda, they’ve been a big part of my career, so it would be nice to get some more podiums.

"This will be my last race on a Honda at their home track, so it would be really nice to get a result for all the Honda people who have worked with me. First time I went to Motegi as a rookie in 2003 I battled with Sete (Gibernau), Valentino (Rossi) and Makoto (Tamada) and they ended up giving me third, my first top-three result.

"I thought ‘wow, this is going to be a good track for me’. But since then I really haven’t done much there. I’ve struggled in some of the hairpin corners, “said the 2006 world champion.

The Twin Ring Motegi, built by Honda as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations, is not one of Hayden’s happy hunting grounds but he added: “It’s an okay track, I like the combination in the back when you come under the first bridge, that all flows together really nice.

"I like those tunnels, because they’re different, it almost feels like you need headlights! Braking stability is probably the biggest thing, plus acceleration. You need a bike that’s good going back through the gears, so you need a good clutch and engine braking set-up.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt