US MotoGP: Nicky Hayden revels in Ducati best

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Nicky Hayden’s quest to master Ducati’s fickle factory GP9 got a massive boost in Laguna Seca when the home favourite surged to a season best fifth place.
Boosted by only his second top ten result in Assen the previous weekend, Hayden made more significant progress in California as he recovers from a torrid start in Ducati’s factory team.
Sporting a special ‘Stars and Stripes’ livery that will be available on the new Ducati 848, Hayden got the better of a race-long duel with Spaniard Toni Elias to finish just one place behind team-mate Casey Stoner.
His maiden Ducati top six might not have hit the dizzy heights of his Laguna victories for Honda back in 2005 and ’06, but it was still a memorable day for the 27-year-old from Kentucky.
He said: “I have won here twice and to say that fifth place feels just as good might sound strange but man, so much hard work has gone into getting us to this point and I want to savour this feeling. To be racing at home, to score a solid result and to have had fun out there is nice. I just want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to my whole team, to Ducati and to everybody who has continued to believe in me during some difficult times this season. We have made progress over the last two races, we have kept the faith and it has paid off with this fifth place. Hopefully we can keep it going and score even better results as the season progresses.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt