2006 MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden will make a stunning return to the series this weekend at Aragon, as he steps in to replace the injured Jack Miller.
The Australian sat out last weekend’s race in Misano after struggling throughout free practice, is still suffering the aftermath of a high-speed tumble at the Red Bull Ring last month.
Falling from his Estrella Galicia Marc VDS Honda during warm-up, the Australian was originally diagnosed with a broken wrist and vertebrae, but since then has struggled with recently diagnosed fractures to the palm of his right hand that has made riding difficult.
But, with the Australian still not fully fit, Hayden will now become the first MotoGP Legend to ever return to the series following their induction – and is thoroughly looking forward to the opportunity.
“First of all I want to wish Jack a speedy recovery. He is a buddy of mine and he is a rider I believe in a lot, so I hope he can get healthy as quickly as possible to show the high potential we all know he has got. He just needs to get his body right so he can perform.
“This is an unusual experience for me because I’ve never been a stand-in rider before. But I have a good relationship with Honda and when the idea first came up they were behind it and Ten Kate gave me their blessing, so it is nice to go and help out another Honda team.
And while the move might be a surprise return to the championship for the American, team boss Michael Bartholemy says Hayden was the obvious replacement rider.
"Obviously we'd have preferred Jack to be racing in Aragon, but it's the racing that is stopping the two fractures in his hand healing properly. It makes sense to have him sit out this race in a bid to recover ahead of the three overseas races, one of which is his home race in Australia.
“I'm looking forward to welcoming Nicky into the team and I want to thank Honda and Ten Kate for releasing him to ride this weekend. As a former MotoGP World Champion for Honda he brings with him a wealth of experience, which will be critical given the steep learning curve he faces with a new bike, new tyres and new electronics. I am sure he will do a stand up job for us.”