After four fourth-place finishes this season, American MotoGP star Nicky Hayden broke through with his first podium result of 2010 by placing third in the Grand Prix of Aragon on Sunday, Sept. 19.
The 2006 MotoGP World Champion Hayden, from Owensboro, Ky., passed runaway points leader Jorge Lorenzo with a daring pass on his Ducati during the final lap at the new Motorland Aragon circuit in Spain.
It was Hayden’s first podium finish since he placed third in the 2009 Red Bull Indianapolis GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, ending a drought of 17 consecutive races off the rostrum.
Nicky Hayden says:”It feels great to be back on the podium, and I really enjoyed myself today. The bike has been working really well all weekend, and in the race I was able to get a good start and stay with Jorge. There wasn’t really anywhere I could get a wheel in, and over the last couple of laps he pushed hard to get away, but I decided that fourth wasn’t good enough for me today. I did a bit of a backyard move in the chicane over there and managed to hold him off to the line.”
“It’s nice to be on the podium. It has been a really good weekend for us and for the team, the sponsors and the supporters. I’m glad we could be up here today. We’ll try to do it again a few more times before the season’s over.”
Hayden’s podium enhanced the best weekend of the year for the Ducati Team. His teammate, 2007 World Champion Casey Stoner, won the pole and earned his first victory of the season. The 2010 Red Bull Indianapolis GP winner Dani Pedrosa was second on his Repsol Honda.
The decisive pass by Hayden on Lap 23 capped a race-long tug-of-war between Hayden and Lorenzo. Hayden qualified fourth and immediately started to stalk Lorenzo’s Yamaha, which qualified second but dropped to third at the start behind Stoner and Pedrosa.
Lorenzo and Hayden stayed locked within one second or less virtually the entire race, the gap ebbing and flowing slightly every lap. Hayden finally dove under Lorenzo in the chicane on the undulating Aragon circuit for the first and only time when it counted, on the last lap.
It was the first time in 13 races this season that Lorenzo didn’t finish on the podium. He leads Pedrosa by a commanding 56 points with five races remaining.
Jorge Lorenzo says: “My start was very good, but during the race I struggled a lot with Nicky always behind me, very close.”
American Ben Spies finished fifth on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine after holding off the faster Repsol Honda of Andrea Dovizioso over the last few laps by braking very deep into corners.
Spies’ teammate, Colin Edwards, finished a disappointing 12th. But Edwards can take consolation in the one-year contract renewal he signed over the weekend with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team for the 2011 season.
It will be Edwards’ ninth consecutive MotoGP season and fourth consecutive year with the French team. Edwards will team with current Superbike World Championship standout Cal Crutchlow of Great Britain.
Colin Edwards says: “I am delighted to have signed a new one-year contract with the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team. I want to say a big thanks to Yamaha and to Tech3 for their unwavering support. I am honored to continue my long and successful relationship with Yamaha, Herve Poncharal and all at Tech3. I love the team and feel like part of a big family, and I’m thrilled that our adventure together is continuing next year.”
“I’m excited at the challenge of competing in the MotoGP world championship again and still being competitive in probably the strongest field in history is an achievement I’m proud of. I am also looking forward to working with and helping out Cal Crutchlow next season. I’d like to think I helped James Toseland and Ben Spies adapt when they arrived in MotoGP, and I will be doing my utmost to do the same for Cal if he needs any advice. I think all of us can look forward to an exciting 2011 together.”
The re-signing of Edwards also puts three full-time American riders on the MotoGP grid in 2011, with Hayden remaining at Ducati and Spies moving to the factory Yamaha team. The 2011 schedule includes the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 26-28 at IMS.