Jerez MotoGP: Nicky Hayden on pace again

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Nicky Hayden showed his brilliant fourth place in Qatar earlier this month was no fluke after the American rider set the third fastest time in opening free practice for this weekend’s Jerez clash.

The 2006 world champion logged a best lap of 1.40.148 to jump from fifth to third in the closing stages and finish behind factory Ducati team-mate Casey Stoner and Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo.

It was the instant proof Hayden was seeking that his Qatar performance was no flash in the pan as he fought for the podium throughout the whole race in the Middle East.

The former Repsol Honda rider said: “I’m happy because this was a big test for me. I’ve been fast in Sepang and Qatar but both places it was after plenty of laps in testing, plenty of tyres and engines, and me being dialled in.

“It’s a big goal for me this year to try and be fast on a Friday and so far it went pretty smooth. I didn’t break no track records but I’m up near the front and have a good feeling with the bike and I wanted to prove it’s no fluke.”

Hayden’s relief though at once again being on the pace and competitive with the likes of Stoner and Lorenzo was tempered slightly by the fact that he didn’t improve his lap time significantly during the 60-minute session.

He added: “I’m not overly happy because it is just Friday but I’m pretty happy because the bike isn’t much different and we want to try and find a base set-up. It’s encouraging but I’ll be a lot happier if it is like this on Sunday. It’s a positive start but everybody is going to make a big step tomorrow.

“I didn’t improve that much during the session today but we’ve got some things to look at. After my first run I went 0.5 faster which is enough but that’s with some tweaks, not swapping swing arms and offsets, just sweetening the bike up.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt