Nicky Hayden fourth again

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Nicky Hayden claimed fourth place for the third time this season in Le Mans to continue his impressive start to 2010.

Fourth on the first lap after sweeping by factory Ducati team-mate Casey Stoner, the Kentucky rider occupied fifth place for most of the 28-lap race before late drama extended his run of top four finishes.

Hayden had done brilliantly to close down Repsol Honda duo Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa in the final stages a relatively uneventful 28-lap affair.

And when Spaniard Pedrosa ran wide just three corners from the end because of a rear brake issue on his RC212V machine, Hayden seized his chance.

The 2006 world champion said: “I can’t be bummed out with fourth again because I rode absolutely as hard as I could.

"I couldn’t have done that race two tenths faster without crashing and to be close to the podium again and see it right there would have been nice. This weekend has not been easy.

"I know I ended sessions in fifth and sixth and it looked good but halfway through I’d be 11th and 12th. I’m pretty satisfied but sure it would have been nice to be a lot closer.

"I have to be happy and the team made a good step before the race. After the warm-up I thought we might be in with a good shot but there is some stuff that we still need to get better to catch those guys, especially in the beginning.

"On their sprint laps they were able to get away from me but to be at the front and at least see them for a while and learn is good.”

Hayden explained some of the improvements he made to make his GP10 more responsive in the race and he added: “For the warm-up we put in a stiffer spring and put more compression on the front because I had a lot of pumping on the rear on Saturday, especially out of the last corner.

"It helped until the last three or four laps when the tyre went off and it started to move a lot.”

Unaware that Pedrosa was struggling to keep him at bay with a rear brake issue, Hayden gave his impression of his last lap dice with his former factory Honda team-mate.

The 28-year-old said: “He blocked the line on the inside and he couldn’t make the apex. When I caught them I did my best lap on lap 20 but catching them is one thing and passing them is another.

"I got a good run on Dani there and I suspect he heard me on the inside and he went to the inside to block.

"That’s a corner where he was braking on the inside and made a real a tight apex to be able to brake at the same place.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt