Left sore by a huge qualifying highside in Qatar, Nicky Hayden expects to be able to ride a more comfortable race when the World Championship arrives in Motegi. The Ducati rider will be competing in his first Japanese round since leaving Honda, and is keen to make a better impression on the final results than he did at round one of the 2009 season.
Some big bruising to his back has all-but-completely gone down, and ‘The Kentucky Kid’ expects to have the only lasting momento of his tumble taken away before the opening practice session for the Polini Grand Prix of Japan.
"Physically I’m okay – no doubt the race (in Qatar) was tough because I was pretty beaten up but I’ve recovered well and I don’t expect to have any problems in Japan. I’ll probably go to the Clinica on Thursday to have the stitches removed and that will be the end of the matter," said the gritty American, who also acknowledged that even before his crash things were far from perfect.
"My first GP with Ducati didn’t exactly go as I’d hoped but we took some positives out of it – I lapped quicker in the second half of the race than I had done all weekend and above all I felt comfortable on the bike. Hopefully this will help us work out what it is exactly that I need to improve my feeling with the bike because being so far off the pace in practice wasn’t cool!
"I’m really keen to do well in this race and even though I’ve always had a kind of love-hate relationship with Motegi – with some good results and some bad ones – it is always a special Grand Prix."
Hayden -who celebrated 100 Grand Prix appearances at the Qatar race- earned his very first podium at the 2003 edition of the Japanese round.