Roger Lee Hayden relishing LCR Honda chance

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Roger Lee Hayden reckons the chance to replace injured Randy de Puniet in Laguna Seca this weekend is a great opportunity to put himself in the shop window for 2011.

The younger brother of 2006 world champion Nicky Hayden will ride de Puniet’s LCR Honda RC212V in the American MotoGP on Sunday.

The French rider will miss the California clash after he suffered a broken tibia and fibula during Sunday’s German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring.

The 29-year-old has targeted a return to action in practice at Brno on August 13 after undergoing successful surgery on Sunday night.

His bad luck though has created a golden opportunity for Roger Lee Hayden, who has been released by the Pedercini Kawasaki squad in World Superbikes to contest the Laguna Seca clash.

He has revealed how the deal came about and said: “When I first heard about it, I wasn’t sure it was for real. I woke up to a text message from Nicky that said ‘Would you like to ride de Puniet’s bike at Laguna?’ And I hadn’t watched the race yet, because I had it recorded.

“I thought, ‘man, I thought Randy was riding.’ And then the next thing Kevin Schwantz called and said ‘How’d you like to throw your leg over a GP bike and then Lucio (Cecchinello) called me and it all happened so fast and I thought, ‘Am I still sleeping?’ I agreed to it pretty much straight away.”

Hayden is no stranger to the American MotoGP having raced as a wild card for Kawasaki back in 2007. He finished in a creditable tenth place.

But the Honda is certainly more of a competitive package with de Puniet a consistent top six finisher in 2010.

Hayden added: “Laguna Seca is a track that I know and I’ll be on a really good bike and it gives me a chance to show my ability when something like this comes about.

“As far as tracks I like, Laguna Seca is way high on the list. It’s always been pretty good to me as well, so I guess that’s one of the most important things. I really don’t have too many excuses.

“All the people who sign the contracts for next year are going to be at Laguna Seca and I get to ride in front of them on a competitive machine.

“I’ve been to a couple races with Nicky this year, including Catalunya, and I watch a lot of them on the internet and Randy’s been top five, front row starts, so the bike and the team are working pretty good.

“Of course Randy rides it pretty hard as well. It looks like they’ve made a lot of headway this year and it looks like they’re getting help from Honda.

“So it’s really good when you’re going into a team and they’re performing at their best.”

Hayden will now compete in both races in America this year having landed a wild card in the Indianapolis Moto2 race in late August.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt