It was over a year ago that Ducati Marlboro's Nicky Hayden last found his way onto the podium and that was too long.The 2006 MotoGP World Champion hadn't been on the podium since finishing third in his true home grand prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last August. And Ducati hadn't put two riders on the podium since 2007, when Hayden's teammate, and today's race winner Casey Stoner, won the Australian GP from teammate Loris Capirossi.So when it came down to crunch time, and Fiat Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo was in his sights, he had to pull the trigger."You know, I've been fourth a lot this year and I said out there, you know, the last lap I had to make it happen," Hayden said after edging Lorenzo for third place in the first ever Aragon Grand Prix. "I knew he wasn't going to let me through, make a mistake, and I couldn't - it was really important for me just to go, not wait for it to happen. Make it happen. In Qatar I made a pretty good move on Dovi (Andrea Dovizioso), enough to do it, but didn't get to the line. And this time, I couldn't just wait and follow him home in fourth."Hayden attacked in turn 15, the left hander leading onto the track's longest straightaway, where Hayden had a slight speed edge on Lorenzo. Hayden made what he called a "hokey" move on Lorenzo, then held him off at the other end of the straight."I was just looking for the first hole I seen," he said. "You know, was kind of - Lorenzo started blocking the inside on the brakes and he knew I was there and I knew he had to do something he didn't expect. So kind of, that little chicane is a little bit an AMA-type chicane, probably a little bit hokey and just had to do something he didn't expect. One of those backyard moves you use on your brothers. Wasn't real fancy or nothing. The main thing was just to let him get back up the inside of me on the exit.'And he wasn't about to allow Lorenzo to re-take the spot in the next turn 16, the left."I followed him probably 18 laps and was never up the inside of him, and you're not going to come from two or three bikes back and outbrake him there, so I knew I couldn't leave it to there," he said.If he did force Lorenzo wide in either of the corners, he knew "we could slow each other down and not have a whole crew catch us."That the rider he was chasing was leading the world championship by 63 points was in Hayden's mind, but not when the checkered flag was in sight.Asked if he was thinking about Lorenzo's standing, Hayden answered, "You know, them last few laps not really. I mean, I do think when you're fighting for a title you deserve that respect. I've fought for titles and know, you know, those guys deserve maybe just a little bit because I think it's the right thing to do. But I got sponsors, team, and people to support me, so I mean you can't give it to him, but you know, I definitely wouldn't been a real popular guy here today in Spain."Lorenzo didn't give up after being passed and came within .084 secs. of denying Hayden the podium on a weekend that may have provided a breakthrough. Certainly it was a breakthrough race for Stoner, who had his first pole since Qatar and first win since last year. The success was achieved by changing the balance of the Ducati Desmosedici to be more like Hayden's GP10. Hayden believed the Ducatis worked well because the track was new, and also because it's the kind of track he and Stoner favor."Obviously our bike worked really well here," Hayden began, "with me and Casey being up front. I mean, I'd say this is by far the best weekend I've had on Ducati. This morning was the first time I've ever been fastest in any session on the bike," he said of being fastest in Sunday morning warm-up, "so that was kind of a little positive step. It's only a third place, but still I'm pretty happy and hopefully can repeat it before the season's over.The strengths of the Desmosedici was the big bang engine, which made it easy on the tires."I don't know if it was a track that suited our bike so much as just a track that suited me and Casey," Hayden said. "I think these are kind of our, fast, flowing, blind, downhill like tracks me and him have went well on in the past."Also the track is quite smooth. Me and Casey have struggled this year on the front over bumps. There was one bump, pretty good one at the bottom of a little side straightaway and the last corner had some ripples, but it's brand new pavement. Wasn't too bumpy out there. Pretty good for people who have a hard time soaking up bumps on the front."All in all, it was a great day for Ducati, Hayden agreed."Yeah, absolutely," Hayden said. "I said it the other day that I know everybody, all the Ducati fans, are really excited by next year," when Valentino Rossi joins the team, "and rightfully so; it's going to be a big step. But the team and the guys in Bologna are completely committed to giving me and Casey the best opportunity this year. Especially Casey, they're supporting him to the last race, the way it should be. They deserve it. They worked hard this year and taken a little bit of heat because the results haven't been there, but the bike worked really good this weekend. It was working well at this track, for sure."

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By Cycle News Staff

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