Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden was treated and released from a hospital in Doha, Qatar after x-rays showed no serious damage from a vicious high-side during Saturday night qualifying for Sunday’s season-opening Grand Prix of Qatar.Late in Saturday’s lone qualifying session, Hayden crashed in front of Monster Energy Tech 3’s James Toseland, who coincidentally was in front of Hayden when the Kentuckian blew a motor in a practice session earlier Saturday. Toseland was able to alert Hayden to the impending peril just as he was entering Losail’s fast turn three right-hander. In the qualifying session, there was no warning.For Toseland, there was a sense of déjà vu. The Englishman has had two violent high-sides which he said were similar to Hayden’s.”It wasn’t too far in front of me,” Toseland said. “I didn’t see him take off but I saw the sparks. It looked exactly the same as the problem I had in Jerez and Malaysia. He didn’t get up too quick ,so I hope he’s okay. With the Bridgestone it is getting used to the character of them. It is another Michelin rider from last year. When you go round a corner they get up to temperature really well, but with a new tire you’ve got to be careful.”Once you go round the first left-hander and get on the throttle it gets up to temperature really well and you think well that feels pretty good. But when you’re going through the right-handers on a new rear tire you’ve got to watch out because the temperature drops so much without keeping on the left-side. It can catch you out big style and that’s what happened with Nicky. It leads you into the sense that the tires is good and once you’ve done a lap on them the temperature stays consistent and the grip is fine. But in a qualifying session when he’s been struggling he’s pushing it too soon. I did the same in Sepang and Jerez on the first flying lap and it can really catch you out.”Said Hayden in a team press release, “I don’t feel like going for a jog right now, I can tell you that much. It was a big crash and I’m in a lot of pain, so we’re going to get some more x-rays done and see what the score is.”Hayden was transported into the Qatari capital of Doha, but x-rays revealed no damage to his back and a scheduled scan was cancelled. Nothing stronger than pain-killers were needed. He and his older brother Tommy, in Qatar for the season-opener, left the hospital to return to the Intercontinental Hotel. A team spokesperson said Hayden was eager to race, but that he and the team would re-evaluate his status in the morning.The crash was one more black mark on a difficult opening weekend for Hayden on the Ducati Marlboro team. During Friday night’s lone practice session, there was a problem with the sensor on his ‘A’ bike which forced him onto his spare. Then came a clutch problem. It added up to a 13th place finish. Saturday’s practice session was marred by the spectacular engine failure. Hayden wasn’t able to improve on his Friday time and finished 15th of 18. And finally the high-side.
Hayden Treated and Released
Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor
Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.