US MotoGP: Top American no consolation for Nicky Hayden
Nicky Hayden denied taking any great satisfaction out of being top American rider in his home race at Laguna Seca yesterday.
The 2006 world champion ended the 32-lap race in fifth place but was somewhat gifted his spot after a braking mistake by compatriot Ben Spies in the closing stages.
It was a tough race for Hayden right from the start as he encountered a clutch problem off the line that almost saw his factory Ducati GP10 stall.
It was a repeat of an issue that struck him in Mugello and also ruined Casey Stoner’s hopes of challenging Jorge Lorenzo at last month’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
The 28-year-old, who was seventh at the end of the first lap, said: “I got a terrible start. I really almost stalled it. Luckily I made a few passes to get in contention and hung in there with them guys for a bit. I don't know what to say.
"I knew it was going to be tough but I didn't expect a miracle or nothing when I've been seventh and eighth place all weekend. It's not like you find a second between the warm-up and race but we went for it.
The Kentucky rider was still able to latch onto the back of Valentino Rossi’s Fiat Yamaha until he succumbed to an attack from Spies on lap 21.
He added: “I had a couple little issues and they got away and with about five to go I got into a good rhythm and we were bringing Dovizioso back and I could sniff the podium.
"I needed Dovi and Rossi to trade positions a couple times and let me get there. And Dovi just about stuck it under him in turn four and I saw that and I thought, ‘Man, that's all I need, just one little dive bomb up the inside.'
"But I was over my head, doing my fastest laps of the weekend almost because I thought there was a chance we might be able to get on the box if the guys in front made a mistake. I dug as deep as I could but it wasn’t enough today.
"My first two years here at Laguna Seca were much more fun, that’s for sure, but hopefully we can be back here fighting for the win next year – that’s the goal.”