Is this the rebirth of Nicky Hayden since taking the MotoGP Championship in 2006? After the Kentucky Kid signed with the Marlboro Ducati team last year, his performance seemed to dwindle compared to his six years road racing with Honda.
But this was expected, considering the American was riding with a new race bike, for a new team, and with a new teammate, Casey Stoner. Now, American Ducatisti have had reason to rejoice this year, as Hayden has taken back-to-back fourth-place finishes.
Sure, it’s only two of 18 races, but it says something about his performance. And he’s been beating Stoner, who’s been characterized as the only rider able to ride a Ducati MotoGP bike well; Stoner DNF’d during Qatar after crashing while in the lead, and finished fifth at Jerez, just behind Hayden. This season marks the first time Stoner was beaten by a teammate in a race since 2007, when the Australian was beaten by then-teammate Loris Capirossi.
Compared to last year at this point, Hayden’s year is looking much better. By this time during his maiden season with Ducati, Hayden finished 12th in Qatar, and 15th in Jerez. Meanwhile, Stoner finished first in Qatar, and third in Jerez. Over the 2009 season, Hayden’s best finish was third in Indianapolis, while Stoner had four first-place finishes: Qatar, Mugello, Phillip Island and Sepang.
Hayden says he’s adapting, and his performance so far has shown this. His latest performance was promising also; in the post-Jerez practice season, Hayden and the Ducati team worked on refining the GP10. By the end of the session Monday, Hayden was seventh fastest with a 1:39.906, just 0.361 seconds shy of the fastest rider there, Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa.
After his fourth-place finish in Jerez Sunday, Hayden displayed the true attitude of his team, and what’s needed to go forward to have a more successful season on the Ducati.
Nicky Hayden says: "This is the Ducati factory team and we don’t jump up and down at fourth place but we’ll take it. We got some great data to work from that should help us be stronger at Le Mans and hopefully we can keep this upward trend going."
2010 MotoGP World Championship Rider Point Standings | Round 2 | Jerez
1. Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha M1, Spain 45
2. Valentino Rossi, Yamaha M1, Italy 41
3. Dani Pedrosa, Honda RC212V, Spain 29
4. Andrea Dovizioso, Honda RC212V, Italy 26
5. Nicky Hayden, Ducati GP10, USA 26
6. Randy De Puniet, Honda RC212V, France 17
7. Colin Edwards, Yamaha M1, USA 12
8. Casey Stoner, Ducati GP10, Australia 11
9. Ben Spies, Yamaha M1, USA 11
10. Marco Melandri, Honda RC212V Italy 11