Motegi MotoGP: Nicky Hayden continues revival despite late drama

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Nicky Hayden continued his welcome return to form at the Twin Ring Motegi today when he claimed his third front row start of the season.

The Ducati-bound American posted a best time of 1.45.971 to claim a front row, despite fearing his hopes had been crushed after Anthony West badly baulked him on his last Michelin qualifying tyre.

Hayden, who claimed his first podium finish of the season in Indianapolis earlier this month, said: “Tomorrow is the real show but I’m really happy to be on the front row.

“I need to find a little bit more speed because I’m not really stringing together 47s like some of these guys but I’ll go for it and see what happens. My first qualifier went pretty good and I thought I might have had something for the boys. I didn’t really improve on my second one and on the third I made a little step. On the fourth one I was coming out of turn two and I looked up and there was a whole bunch of guys in the way.

“It looked like rush hour traffic. I was going down the straight and out of the corner of my eye I was watching them and not one guy turned round and looked. I thought it was going to get ugly and I got into the corner and there was no way I was going to get through. I slowed down and abandoned on the lap and went hard enough just to keep a little bit of heat into the tyre. I pulled the trigger again and I had enough juice to squeeze onto the front row. It was really good because the qualifier normally here lasts for just one lap but I was able to get two out of it.

“The last couple of right-handers she was moving around pretty good but I’m on the front row and hope to do something with it.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt