DERBY, ENGLAND, JUNE 21: Repsol Honda’s Nicky Hayden breathed a sigh of relief at the end of Saturday’s wet MotoGP qualifying session. Not so much for his own performance-he qualified just off the front row in fourth-but over the performance of Ben Spies in his MotoGP debut on the Rizla Suzuki.

On Thursday, Hayden said that he expected Spies “to surprise a lot of people and go quick.” But following Friday’s dry session, in which Spies was 17th out of 18 on the day, Hayden admitted he was concerned “that maybe I opened my mouth too much when I sat here and told everybody how he was going to surprise people, this and that. But today he came through.”

Spies was just starting his AMA career when Hayden was finishing his. But he’s since seen Spies race a number of times, most recently at this year’s event at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

“You know, Ben’s (Spies) a good rider, and that AMA championship is strong,” Hayden said. “Like I said too, I want him to do good, not too good: I don’t want him giving me no heat this weekend. I want him to do good because he is in the American championship and that championship I rate high. And it’s important for him to come do good for those other riders, my brothers” Tommy and Roger Lee “included, and just the series in general.”

As to his performance after only two days on the Rizla Suzuki, one in the wet and one in the dry, Hayden said, “So far he’s made a good showing, which I’m quite pleased about. If it was a Superbike rider from another championship…actually he followed me today at the end qualifying for two laps when he did his best laps. And, yeah, like I say, that is my championship, that’s where I came from. And, so yeah, I got to hope he does good for my brother’s sake and just the whole AMA in general.”

MotoGP News

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.

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