Ducati Marlboro's Nicky Hayden's disappointing 2011 season got a little worse when he ended it by breaking his left scapula (shoulder blade) and two ribs in a riding accident at an indoor track near his home in Owensboro, Kentucky on Tuesday, Dec. 27. And the injury could impact his 2012 campaign if it prevents him from taking part in the first test of the season at the end of January in Sepang, Malaysia.
Hayden was aboard his Honda XR100 when he came up on a slower rider who clipped his front wheel while trying to move out of the way. The 2006 MotoGP World Champion had both an X-ray and CAT scan on the day of the accident, and also a follow-up MRI. After consulting with his surgeon, Dr. Arthur Ting, the decision was made to forego surgery, though Hayden will visit Ting in Fremont, California next week, ten days after the accident. The results of that examination will determination Hayden's recovery. The scapula is surrounded by muscle, which makes recovery from surgery even longer,, which is why it's best avoided.
Hayden's racing season ended when he broke his right scaphoid after being knocked down, along with teammate Valentino Rossi, in the first corner of the season-ending Valencia Grand Prix. That incident prevented him from taking part in the post-season Valencia test of Ducati's new Desmosedici GP12 with the perimeter chassis. It also required surgery, from which he'd fully recovered.
Hayden's father, Earl, and older brother, Tommy, were with him when he crashed at the track about 45 minutes from his home.
"Obviously, injuries are never good," Hayden said in a team release, "but it's part of motorcycle racing. Just like at Valencia, it was kind of a freak accident. I was starting to train again, like I normally do during the winter, at a private track near my house. I came up behind another rider, and he went to move out of the way. I wasn't going that fast, but he clipped my front wheel and I went down and landed pretty hard on my left shoulder, and that was it. It's disappointing, but there's nothing to do about it but heal quickly. Anyway, this doesn't change my expectations for 2012 which, fortunately, is just around the corner."
The 2011 season was a disappointment for both Hayden and Valentino Rossi. Rossi finished seventh overall, a career worst, and only seven points ahead of eighth place finisher Hayden. Each rider scored only one podium finish.
Hayden and his brothers usually fly to their winter training base in Orange, California just after New Year's. From there Hayden will visit Dr. Ting, after which he'll likely fly to Italy for Wrooom 2012, the combined Ducati-Ferrari Marlboro team intros in the Italian ski town of Madonna di Campiglio. Hayden certainly won't be taking part in the event's ski race, nor the car races on the ice on the final day of the intro. Last year Hayden finished second to Ferrari's Fernando Alonso in the car race, in which everyone drove identically preparted Fiat 500s, and third behind Alonso and and Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa in the go-kart race.