MONTEREY, CA, JULY 25 – Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden couldn’t hide his disappointment after finishing fifth, and top American, at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.Despite nearly stalling on the start – his clutch was balky – Hayden started well and was in the mix early, but knew not to expect too much after being mid-pack during practice and qualifying.With the lead trio too far out front, Hayden was in the group contesting fourth. It was led by Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso, with Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s also a part of it.Early in the race he was struck by an odd ailment: The braking fingers on his right hand went to sleep. It meant he had to alter his grip through Rainey Curve, which cost him time every lap.Dovi kept himself out front until the the 27th of 32 laps when Rossi made a pass. At that point Hayden was more than two seconds back, with Spies behind him.For the next few laps he closed on Dovi, cutting the gap to under a second starting the final lap. Hayden chased the Honda rider relentlessly and found an opening when Dovi made a mistake as he attacked Rossi in the final corner, but the Honda rider was able to hang on by .423 secs.Hayden was fifth and just over a second off the podium.
“I don’t know what to say, really,” he said. “I mean, I knew it was going to be tough today I didn’t expect to just no miracle or nothing when I’ve been seventh, eighth place all week. It’s not like you find a second between warm-up and race. But we went for it.”I got a terrible start. We’ve had problems on the start sometimes. Me and Casey (Stoner), starting for me at Mugello, him at Silverstone. We don’t know when it’s going to do it, but we’ve got something going wrong and we don’t know until the starting line and I knew after I took off for the grid there might be a problem.”I got a terrible start. I really almost stalled it. Luckily, turn one, two I made a few passes to get in contention and hung in there with them guys for a bit. Had a couple little issues and they got away and with about five to go I got into a good rhythm and we were bringing Dovi back and I could sniff the podium and actually did the fastest times I did all weekend, 22.1, 22.2, and thought I might as well get in there. But I was on the limit and ran out of time.”I needed Dovi and Rossi to trade positions a couple times and let me get there. And Dovi just about stuck it under him in turn four and I seen that and I thought, ‘Man, that’s all I need, just one little dive bomb up the inside.'”It’s again, a second from the podium. Today was fifth but right about a second from the podium. I’ve had probably five of those this year.”