One of the most eagerly-anticipated and important events on the MotoGP calendar for Ducati and its riders arrives this weekend, with the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. It is one of two home races for Nicky Hayden and the scene of his debut victory in motorcycle racing’s elite competition, which came in 2005 and was followed up by identical success on his way to the world title in 2006. Casey Stoner picked up the baton with victory in 2007 and the Australian was one half of an epic battle with Valentino Rossi last year.
With 106 points and two victories each from six races so far this season, the three gladiators that stand together at the top of the MotoGP World Championship stood side by side on the podium at Catalunya today, each having written their own page in another thrilling chapter of motorcycling history. Whilst Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo fought a fantastic battle for victory to the final corner, Casey Stoner had to fight his own battle against illness to secure a priceless third place.
Ducati Marlboro Team rider Casey Stoner will start from the front row of the grid in tomorrow’s Catalunya Grand Prix, with Nicky Hayden starting in thirteenth place despite a late crash that denied him a potential second-row start.
Ducati Marlboro Team riders Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden both enjoyed a positive first practice session at the Catalunya Grand Prix, with the American joining the Australian at the top end of the time sheets on an encouraging opening day: Stoner lapped third fastest, Hayden clocked the sixth fastest time.
A small crash towards the end of the session did little to dent the confidence of Stoner, who reported improved corner speed and turning from his machine at a circuit where he celebrated victory on his way to becoming MotoGP World Champion in 2007.
Nicky Hayden is experiencing his toughest start to a MotoGP season.
Nicky Hayden Speaks…
"We can’t do much in terms of preparing for the Grand Prix and this obviously isn’t an easy period for me, but I have to think positive and continue to give it everything. That is my way of dealing with things and that is what I’ll continue to do alongside my team. I’m looking forward to getting out there and racing again but I’m also looking forward to the test afterwards."
Former MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden began a new chapter in his career at the start of the year, moving to Ducati for the 2009 season. The American has been familiarising himself with the Desmosedici GP9 and his new team, and also collaborating with one of their principal sponsors in Shell.
Nicky Hayden Speaks…
Mika Kallio blamed his second MotoGP DNF on Nicky Hayden at the weekend, whereas the American says it was him who had the bad luck when Kallio slipped and touched him.
Following his good results in Qatar and Japan, followed up by his technical problems at Jerez, Mika Kallio’s learning process in MotoGP continued on Sunday when he crashed out at Le Mans.
Rear grip and a lack of track time hit Nicky Hayden’s efforts to learn how to handle the Desmosedici GP9 at Le Mans, leaving the American targetting a speedy start in order to salvage a good result from the weekend in Le Mans.
13th – Nicky Hayden Speaks…
Since the Gran Premio bwin.com de España, where there were disappointing results for Ducati other than Casey Stoner’s best ever Jerez result, the Italian factory has taken several steps to improve their overall competitiveness.
A three-day test commences on Tuesday at Mugello, where Ducati test rider Vittoriano Guareschi will be joined by Troy Bayliss to focus on using the data from the opening three rounds of the season to further develop the GP9.
The Gran Premio bwin.com de España was another weekend to forget for Nicky Hayden, who appears to be out of luck in MotoGP at the moment.
The American star struggled all weekend to find a good set-up for his Desmosedici GP9, as he attempted to bounce back from his heartbreaking first lap crash at Motegi caused by Yuki Takahashi one week earlier.
The Kentucky was hindered by his physical condition after that heavy crash in Japan and his high speed accident at Qatar in qualifying on the first weekend of the season.
Casey Stoner is confident as he arrives at Jerez, whilst his new Ducati colleague Nicky Hayden is looking for improvements after a difficult start to the year. Following a highly successful visit to Jerez earlier this year as the winner of the BMW M Award at MotoGP Official Test, Casey Stoner goes into the third race weekend of the season determined to hit the podium at the Gran Premio bwin.com de España.
Nicky Hayden had a short day at the office on Sunday and it was not the short hours that he would have liked at Motegi. ‘The Kentucky Kid’ lasted barely a lap before his day was over, courtesy of some rookie exuberance from home rider Yuki Takahashi.