In a tough Turkish Grand Prix for Repsol Honda
Repsol Honda rider Nicky Hayden fought to seventh place in an incident packed Grand Prix of Turkey which saw his team-mate, Dani Pedrosa, the victim of a first lap crash.
Hayden made a good start from sixth on the grid
and initially lay fourth, before being forced back to sixth again at the end of lap one. In the early stages of the race the World Champion dropped to eight but came back strongly, overtaking Valentino Rossi and John Hopkins to lie sixth going into the last lap.
With the podium in sight, the 25- year-old American tried all he could to get closer to the riders in front but was unfortunate to run wide into the final slow corners, which allowed Hopkins to creep by.
Dani Pedrosa's bad luck at the 5.340km (3.316 miles) Istanbul Park circuit continued as the three-time World Champion in the smaller Grand Prix classes was the innocent victim of a crash on the first lap.
Having started from third on the grid, the 21-year-old Spaniard was braking for the final complex when Olivier Jacque arrived too fast on the inside and lost control, taking the unfortunate Pedrosa down with him. Pedrosa initially walked away from the accident before experiencing some pain in his chest and neck and so was taken to the circuit medical centre as a precaution. Initial tests showed no serious damage and Pedrosa was released, although in view of the crash he will not now take part in the planned test here tomorrow.
Casey Stoner (Ducati) won today's 22-lap race with Toni Elias (Honda) second and Loris Capirossi (Ducati) third. After tomorrow's test the MotoGP paddock next jets to Shanghai for the Grand Prix of China which takes place on May 6.
Nicky Hayden :
“My start was pretty decent and I made a couple of passes in turn four on the first lap. For a while I was enjoying the battle, dicing with a few guys and having a bit of fun. At the end of the race, with four or five laps to go I was thinking ‘you know what, I'm going to be able to steal a podium here'.
Except that after about half race distance I was having real trouble getting through the fast right hander at turn 14. Early in the race it was my best corner, but at other parts of the track I was braking so deep to make up time that I used up the front tyre a little bit. At the end, and I know it's a pretty weak excuse, but I just couldn't get through that right hander. That affected my acceleration up that hill and I started losing positions. On the last lap I gave it one last go through there to try to be close on the brakes to let me try to do something down at the hairpin, but when I got in there I just pushed the front to the edge of the track and had a big moment – I barely stayed on. It's another seventh place and I know people will still be on my case about it, but the truth is the team worked really hard this weekend and I rode as hard as I could for 22 laps. I don't want to play the ‘first Michelin rider' card because my tyres were pretty good. The rear was really consistent, though I had some issues with the front. I really would have loved to give the team a better result this weekend but we've got a test here tomorrow and we'll look to get a few things straightened out.”
Dani Pedrosa :
“It's a shame about the crash today because I think I had a chance of a good result here – it seems that this track is not so lucky for me! My start was not so good and I had some wheelspin off the line which meant I dropped back and was in a large group of riders on the first lap. Then when I was braking into the final tight section of the track I was hit on the inside and went down. I have some pain in my chest and neck so I won't be testing tomorrow, but I should be ok to race in China.”
Makoto Tanaka :
“Nicky fought hard and battled well for the entire race, although he was unlucky to just lose out to Hopkins on the final lap. He was the top Michelin runner today and was able to maintain a fast, consistent pace for the whole race. This was a difficult Turkish Grand Prix for us though. It's a real shame that Dani was taken down because he had a chance of fighting at the front today. It's lucky that he doesn't seem to have any serious injuries although he won't test tomorrow. Some of our competitors were very strong this weekend and this is a concern for us so we must work hard to improve the whole package for the next races.”