Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden on the Mend

Henny Ray Abrams | January 5, 2012
Nicky Hayden breaks shoulder blade and ribs in indoor flat track race during offseason training. Photo Courtesy of Ducati.

Photo Courtesy of Ducati

BROOKLYN, NY, JAN 5 – Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden was encouraged that he won’t need surgery on his broken scapula, but he admits that being ready for the first MotoGP test of the 1000cc era in Sepang will be difficult.

Hayden broke his left scapula, fractured three ribs and suffered a hairline fracture in his wrist when he crashed into a rider trying to move out of his way at an indoor flat track facility in Greenville, Kentucky on Tuesday, Dec. 27. A little over a week after the accident Hayden visited Dr. Arthur Ting at his clinic in Fremont, California, where he got the good news/bad news.

“Obviously I’ve been better. That’s how it goes sometimes,” he said in a cell phone call from his winter training base in Orange, Ca., his left arm in a sling, “but I had a pretty good visit at the doc yesterday and I don’t need surgery, so that’s the main thing.

“He wanted to wait a week after, see how it looked, see how it healed. Make sure the bone didn’t move to let it heal, because it’s not an easy bone to go in and fix. There’s a lot of muscle and stuff around it. My wrist looks better and my ribs aren’t too big a problem. But it’s a little bit uncomfortable for now, but hopefully start feeling better.

“The wrist is, I mean, really good. There’s still a little fracture line you can see. I did another CAT scan yesterday, but it’s enough to ride. It’s a little bit tight, because the scaphoid is right in the joint. I don’t have all my range of motion back or all my strength, but I could definitely ride, for sure.”

That he doesn’t need surgery makes it possible for Hayden to consider flying to Sepang on Jan. 26, three weeks from today (Jan. 5). The Jan. 31/Feb. 1-2 first test of the revamped Ducati Desmosedici GP12 is especially important for Hayden and teammate Valentino Rossi. Hayden was forced to miss the post-Valencia test, where the GP12 with the perimeter frame was unveiled to the public, after his right wrist was broken when both he and Rossi were knocked off their motorcycles in the first turn of the season-ending grand prix. That put Rossi on track as the lone Ducati Marlboro test rider and the results were clearly disappointing for the team. The bike will be updated, Hayden believes, and he wants to have his first ride on it in Sepang, but with only three weeks to go and his arm in a sling, “it’s going to be tough, it’s going to be tight,” he said.

Since the accident, Hayden hasn’t been able to exercise, but he’s been given permission by Dr. Ting to start cardio training on Friday.

“I’ve gotten three broken ribs on one side and the ribs are almost more uncomfortable than the shoulder,” he said. “I’ve tried to do a little bit, but it’s pretty uncomfortable to breathe and to do anything, so I definitely couldn’t do much.”

Before Sepang comes Wrooom 2012, the annual combined Ducati/Ferrari Marlboro ski meeting in the Italian Dolomites. Hayden leaves for Madonna di Campiglio on Sunday, where he’ll make a number of media appearances, but won’t take part in next Friday’s ski or car races.

“No, the ski race is probably out and even the cart races and stuff, I mean, I don’t see how I can do,” he said. “And I mean, it’s not going to help me get any better. I may have to sit those out this year, which that’s pretty fun.” Hayden was on the podium of both ice races last year, finishing behind Ferrari’s Felipe Massa in the Fiat 500 race and behind Massa and teammate Fernando Alonso in the go-kart race.

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.