Nicky Hayden: ‘Don’t write Casey off yet’

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Former world champion Nicky Hayden has warned against writing off factory Ducati team-mate Casey Stoner after the Aussie’s title hopes suffered a crushing blow in Le Mans last weekend.

Hayden, who snatched his third consecutive fourth place from Dani Pedrosa on the final lap, got a front row seat for Stoner’s early blunder.

Stoner’s second crash in three races left the 24-year-old a massive 59-points adrift of Jorge Lorenzo with less than a quarter of the 2010 campaign completed.

But American Hayden said it would be foolhardy to rule Stoner out of the title hunt just yet.

The Kentucky rider told MCN: “He’s in a big hole but he’s got a really short memory. He can have the biggest crash of his life and on his out lap set the best time immediately.

"I’m not worried about him because he is liable to win the next four races in a row. He’s in a hole but he will be back.

"I’ve seen him take some crashes and think ‘well that’s going to shake him but no way’. It seems sometimes that he will come right back stronger.”

Hayden got a front row seat for the incident in France and he added: “It was right in front of me. I saw the front go a little and then I saw his left foot come off. It seemed like forever that the front was gone and he had it on his elbow trying to save it.

"I couldn’t open the throttle because he was staying on line.  I was worried about the guys behind me. When I passed him he still had it on his knee.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt