US MotoGP: ‘Big opportunity’ for Roger Lee Hayden

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Home favourite Nicky Hayden reckons younger brother Roger Lee has a big opportunity to put himself in the shop window having landed a chance to ride injured Randy de Puniet’s LCR Honda in the American MotoGP this weekend.

Roger Lee will replace de Puniet at Laguna Seca after the Frenchman suffered a double break to his left leg in a big crash during last weekend’s German MotoGP at the Sachsenring. 

And 2006 world champion Hayden is hoping his younger sibling can showcase his talent in front of the MotoGP paddock.

He finished tenth on his previous MotoGP ride in Laguna Seca back in 2008 when he rode a factory Kawasaki ZX-RR.

Speaking ahead of the American MotoGP race, Nicky said: “It is a big opportunity for him and a shame it kind of came so rushed. Last time he got to test the Kawasaki and he was a little bit more prepared but he goes really good at Laguna. He was ninth to the last corner when (Alex) Barros passed him and if you ask him he'll let you know because he's correcting me all the time. 

"The Honda's have improved a lot this season and they have made it tougher, they are getting stronger every week, all of them. I have big expectations because he's my brother and maybe too much because it’s never easy to jump in at this level on a short week. The Hondas are going good and have some upgrades from the factory and this is a track Roger loves and I hope he puts on a good show."

Hayden said he had not spoken at length with his brother about the RC212V ride but joked: “We talked mainly about the Playboy sponsorship! There’s not much to talk about until we get going.

"We talked more about how it all came about with the guys because when he rode the Kawasaki he basically rode Randy’s set-up with his seat position and handlebars. But we’ll talk more after the first practice.”

Roger Lee currently rides for the Pedercini Kawasaki squad in World Superbikes and will also compete in next month's Moto2 race at Indianapolis in a Honda America effort headed by 1993 world 500cc champion Kevin Schwantz.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt