Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden is stuck in 12th place and not happy about it.The Kentuckian finished the first day of practice for Saturday’s seventh round of the MotoGP World Championship more than a second off the pace set by LCR Honda’s Randy De Puniet on a track where he’s had some success. It was here in 2006 that Hayden took a last gasp win over a heart-broken Colin Edwards, Hayden’s only win outside of Laguna Seca. And he hasn’t finished worse than fifth here for the past five years. But he knows he’ll need a big turnaround in his fortunes to keep the streak alive.”Top five’s going to be pushing it, but sure, the last I think four years in a row I’ve been top five, or last five years. Five years in the top five,” he said. “So yeah, I would hate to give up that streak, but it’s not looking real good at the moment, but that’s why we line up. Anything’s possible, so, yeah we’ll try.His 12th place position was about the same where he’s often qualified this year, he said, adding, “I mean, as far as my gap to the front – a second – which is, at the moment as tight as the field is here, is a lot. But, actually my feeling was okay.”Hayden was .4 of a second from 11th fastest Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) the final rider within .635 of a second of De Puniet.”Just pretty…12th. Been stuck on a lot of twelves this year, so… I’ve been struck right around 12th a lot this year.”One of Hayden’s best days this season was the first day of practice for the Catalunyan GP. He finished the day an encouraging sixth. But that was the high point of the weekend. And he was the only rider to regress during the post-race test.”You know the first day at Catalunya we changed quite a bit with the bike and I was able to go quite good. And from there…. you know I improved a little bit every session, but everybody else just was making bigger steps than I was,” he said. “We changed some stuff with the electronics that helped me, but I’m still missing a lot with the bike itself, geometry. Yeah, I know I was really upbeat after Friday at Barcelona. I thought we were really onto something and probably, maybe got a little too carried away and went backwards from there.”Hayden said the team tried a new electronics package here, but he knew right away it didn’t work, “and went back to what I know and got better.”Now he needs to keep getting better if he’s going to continue the streak
Hayden Struggles to 12th
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.