Nicky Hayden was naturally disappointed to have fallen to ninth place in the Japanese Grand Prix, having started on the front row of the grid at Twin Ring Motegi.
The Ducati Team rider’s third position in qualifying on Saturday marked his first front row start since the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez. However, the American lost positions as soon as the race began at Motegi.
“We knew it would be a different story in the dry and already in the morning session it was clear we were further back than (on Saturday),” explained the 2006 World Champion. “I don’t know what happened on the start, but the bike didn’t accelerate; it looks like it may have been something with the clutch. That’s a shame because all the work from qualifying was gone by the time I got to Turn 1.
“The race was very difficult because we struggled a lot with edge grip, but I went faster as the race went on. I knew it would be a big job to beat Dovi (teammate Andrea Dovizioso) here because this is a great track for him. He was really strong in some places and made it tough, but I was barely able to beat him on the last lap.”
Despite his struggles, Hayden did finish the race ahead of his teammate, crossing the finish line just under six seconds ahead following a mistake from Dovizioso.
“Maybe I rode a bit better than at the other tracks but, anyway, we still have a big gap to the front,” Italian Dovizioso began. “It’s a shame about the last lap, but I had some lapped traffic in front of me that bothered me in the final braking zone. The brakes weren’t right either and I don’t think I was the only one to have problems.
“Anyway, I went a bit wide at the bottom of the hill, losing a position to Nicky. I’m disappointed because I had managed to stay ahead of him for the entire race.”
Hayden now has just a single race remaining with Ducati before he switches to Power Electronics Aspar with a Honda Production Racer machine in 2014. Dovizioso will remain with Ducati, joined by Cal Crutchlow as a teammate for the second time.