Hayden Ends Season Prematurely

Henny Ray Abrams | November 7, 2010

VALENCIA, SPAIN, NOV 7 – The final images of Nicky Hayden in the 2010 MotoGP World Championship show a frustrated rider kicking gravel and waving his arms in frustration.The Ducati Marlboro rider was in second place behind teammate Casey Stoner on the second lap of the Valencia Grand Prix when the front end washed away and he was down. Hayden was quickly up and frustrated, punching the air with his fist and kicking pebbles. But he wasn’t hurt and the day had started well, so he quickly put it behind. How pissed off are you?”You know, I got to get over it,” Hayden said. “Moping around all winter ain’t going to help cure it. So shake it off and get ready to go back to work and get ready for the new season. Sure, I hate to crash out ending the season…when I had good pace and coulda run with ‘em. But I’m more just thinking about getting back to work. I have a good bike and good team. Go back and see if we can do another step like we did last winter, this winter and get ready for Qatar.”Hayden had been encouraged by being fastest in the morning, not so encouraged by having the slowest bike. And Stoner was threatening to disappear from his fourth pole position of the year.

Hayden said he didn’t get into the third gear, first turn left “any hotter than I had been the lap before or anything, but the front was a little bit lower and got on the bump rubber and when it does that it turns it in and it was on the bottom, so (it tucked). I had a full tank of gas this morning, but I wasn’t touching it. So I was in the right margin, but in the race got on it and it was pretty quick, pretty early. There wasn’t no saving it, so.Hayden explained that the “suspension just goes hard and that’s it. And I was in hot. I mean, I’m trying to chase down Stoner knowing he’s going to bolt, so I wanted to just get on there. see if I could hang on as long as I could. See why he was going so fast around here.”The team had made overnight changes that improved the set-up. They’d raised the bike, added pitch, and “changed the swingarm angle to get some more bite. A lot of people were on used tires this morning, but I was able to pretty decent on used tires and with race fuel, race everything. Wasn’t a big tweak. It was kinda the same tweak did from yesterday morning to qualifying where I took a big step. We went more in that direction for the race.”The crash cost Hayden sixth in the championship. He’d come into the race tied with Ben Spies, who finished fourth. The final tally shows Spies with 176, Hayden with 163.Now Hayden has a day off before the final test of the 2010 season and his first test of the Ducati Desmosedici with Valentino Rossi as his teammate. Asked how important it was, he said, “Very important. Testing now is even more important. We got less time. We got an engine to try, so we need to try to make a decision so they can focus on one engine. So it’s a very, very important test, so that’s why I’m glad I’m OK.”

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.