Pedrosa from 9th to 4th
Repsol Honda's Nicky Hayden made a dramatic return to the podium at the Dutch TT on Sunday as he brilliantly converted 13th on the grid into third place at the chequered flag.
The World Champion made a fantastic start from the fifth row and
rode round the outside of nearly half the MotoGP field to arrive at the first corner in fourth place. By the end of the first lap he'd dropped to sixth but then began to pick off positions, riding with renewed aggression and confidence aboard his RC212V.
The 25-year-old American kept pace with the leaders for the entire race, nibbling at the two-second gap to leader Casey Stoner and then Valentino Rossi, who eventually won a close race. Although Hayden couldn't quite mount a challenge for the win today, he made full use of the recent setting improvements to his RC212V and recorded his best result of a difficult season.
The World Champion is now set-up well for the next race at Sachsenring another track he likes and then his home race at Laguna Seca where he has won for the last two years.
Dani Pedrosa also put in a great ride to take his Honda from 9th on the grid to fourth. The first two-thirds of Pedrosa's race was almost a carbon copy of Hayden's as he slotted in behind his team-mate and repeated every pass the World Champion made. In close formation the Repsol Honda's scythed past Colin Edwards, Marco Melandri, Chris Vermeulen and John Hopkins to lie in third an fourth places, the positions they held to the flag. Inthe closing laps, the 21-year-old Spaniard began to suffer from wheelspin which forced him to drop back and settle for fourth, and 13 points to consolidate his third place in the World Championship.
With one weekend's break, the MotoGP paddock will now look forward to the German Grand Prix at Sachsenring on July 15, followed by the US Grand Prix a week later on July 22.
It's really nice to get a good result and just have fun be up there at the front battling with the boys.
On the warm-up lap I was thinking this is by far the best my machine has felt all year in any conditions and, even though I'd qualified in 13th, on the line I just remember thinking, fight like a dog today boy! Then I just put it in gear and got a really good start. In fact I got such a good start that when I got to the hairpin I almost relaxed and took a breath and Edwards came back past me. I needed that start the only choice I had was to look for a hole and do something. My pace was pretty good but when Valentino came through he just split and I couldn't get my pace down to do those few quick laps to stay with him. I thought for a while I might be on for something a bit special and maybe an even better result, but we'll definitely take this one and try to build on it. A big thanks to my team and all my guys at Repsol Honda who've worked really hard for me. It would have been really easy to start giving up on me and pointing the finger but they stayed and worked really hard at the tests especially the two days after Barcelona so thanks to them. Thanks to Michelin too, because the tyres worked really well today. We've just found a little bit of an improvement with the machine just those three or four tenths that make the difference between being at the back and being at the front. It's not like we found two seconds a lap, but just enough so that I can push and have fun. There's still some work to do and a lot of racing to go but we'll just try and enjoy this one.
After qualifying in ninth position in the rain yesterday fourth in the race is not too bad, although I have to admit I was actually hoping for better today. I got a good start and was able to get behind Nicky and in the first few laps I was very comfortable. When Nicky made a few overtakes I was able to follow him through and we worked our way up the order. My speed was quite good and I was able to improve on my pace from practice which was encouraging. It's a shame that in the last six or seven laps I began to struggle with traction again and I just couldn't keep the gap to Nicky. We'll have to keep working on this because it's an issue we've had in a few races this year which means we haven't always achieved the results that looked possible. The machine is getting better but we still have some problems in the latter stages of the races so we'll have to continue to make a big effort for the next races.
The weather was kind to us today and gave us a good chance to be competitive and that's how it proved. Nicky was able to return to the podium and this is very good he's very happy about this and so am I! He was fastest in the warm-up this morning and he did a very good job in the race his very best. The pace of Rossi and Stoner was very fast today though. With Sachsenring and Laguna Seca approaching tracks which Nicky likes things are looking better for him. Dani also did a good job today. The circuit is not the best one for him though, and he found that he was getting some wheelspin in the last few laps of the race which prevented him from battling for the podium. We must use this result as a basis for even better results in the upcoming races.