Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden did something on Sunday he’d never done before; he started a race in the dry without completing a single lap of practice or qualifying in similar conditions.Like the rest of the MotoGP field, Hayden lined up on Sunday afternoon on a dry track that had a few wet patches. Every session prior to the race had been wet-Friday morning was a write-off and Saturday qualifying was rained-out-and setting up the Desmosedici GP10 for the race was a series of educated guesses.Hayden made more of his race than teammate Casey Stoner, who crashed out of third on the fifth of 28 laps. Hayden briefly led the race, but found mid-race tricky going. One of six riders to go with the softer option Bridgestone front, Hayden appeared to be struggling with the front end, but he refused to use that as an excuse.With Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi disappearing at mid-race, all eyes were on the final podium spot. Hayden was in the thick of it well into the final lap, but lost out to eventual third place finisher Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Gresini Honda).”Today was the first time in my career that I have gone out to race in the dry without completing a single lap in those conditions before lining up on the grid,” Hayden said. “Over the first few laps the bike worked really well, I felt good and I even managed to lead the race, which hasn’t happened for a while. In the middle part of the race I had a couple of moments on damp patches and lost my feeling a little. I got my rhythm back together towards the end and joined in the fight for the podium.”Fifth place alongside a crash for Casey (Stoner) isn’t a brilliant result for the team. It has been a tough weekend on everybody, but we will try to do better at Valencia.”Stoner said that there wasn’t “much to say today, other than it’s a shame, obviously. I was taking it steady over the first couple of laps getting the tires up to temperature and then I was able to push a little harder to close the gap to the guys in front of me. When I got on the back of Jorge (Lorenzo) I wasn’t pushing as hard as I had on the previous laps, but I ran a little off line and lost the front. I tried to save it but I wasn’t able to and I am really sorry to all the guys in the team because they have done a good job in difficult conditions to find a good set-up. We will try and make up for it in Valencia.”
Hayden, Stoner Struggle in Portugal
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.