FOURTH-PLACED HAYDEN FLIES FLAG FOR DUCATI AFTER STONER CRASHED OUT IN QATAR
Nicky Hayden got his 2010 season off to a flying start today with a thrilling battle for the podium under the Losail floodlights, flying the flag for the Ducati Marlboro Team after a crash for his
team-mate Casey Stoner.
The Australian didn't get the ideal start to the race from pole position as he was passed by three riders - including Hayden, who made a lightening start from ninth -- but he quickly fought back to recover the lead by the third lap. However, a mistake just three laps later put paid to an otherwise perfect weekend, with Stoner having dominated every session.
Hayden kept pace with Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso, keeping the leader in sight whilst entering a fierce battle for second place. Jorge Lorenzo forced his way through in the later stages, with the American eventually missing out on third place by just 0.011 seconds to the Italian.
NICKY HAYDEN -- (Ducati Marlboro Team #69) 4th
"Man! I really didn't expect to be so tough in the race but the team made a couple of small changes that made a huge difference and right from the warm-up lap I felt good. I got a great start and Rossi didn't seem a lot faster than me. In a couple of places he was getting away but I just tried to stay in there and learn something - it's been so long since I ran at the front. If you offered me fourth place, two seconds behind Rossi, before the race I would have taken it but to be so close to the podium and not actually up there... it hurts. Still, it's a long season and there are a lot of opportunities ahead of us. I'm sorry for Casey but fourth place with all the other heavies in there has got to be my best result. We got some good points in the bag so we'll take it, get out of here and move on. Big thanks to the team and everybody at Ducati for sticking behind me and for all their hard work this winter. I hope I can repay them this year."
CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team #27) DNF
"The bike bogged at the start so I didn't get away well but I felt good and I was able to pass the other guys. Once I got to the front I started to get into my rhythm but I lost the front end a couple of times in long corners so I made the decision to try to ride a bit smoother and not put so much pressure on the front tyre with the full tank. Unfortunately that is what led to the crash because looking at the telemetry I didn't have enough load on the front, so I guess in hindsight I should have stuck to the way I'd been riding all weekend. It's my mistake and I apologise to the team because we'd done a great job this weekend and we leave empty handed. Having said that it's not a complete disaster because we've found this weekend that the bike has improved in areas where we have struggled in the past -- for example the rear grip was unbelievable - and we have a long, long way to go. I'm pleased for Nicky because he had a great race and I think we can both be confident and optimistic about the rest of the season with this bike."
VITTORIANO GUARESCHI (Ducati Marlboro Team Manager)
Obviously we feel Casey's race should have ended differently tonight, we know that but unfortunately he crashed. Having said that I am happy to have seen Casey in such great form, leading the race just a couple of laps in despite not making a brilliant start. Then it was all over, which is a real disappointment, but the potential is there and the season is long. Nicky was fantastic. We have worked all winter to give him a package that works for him and he has repaid us. We didn't see his full potential in practice but the World Champion in Nicky came out in the race. I would have loved to see him on the podium, for him and for the whole team who have worked tirelessly, but anyway we can take huge satisfaction from his performance. We now travel to Japan with a great package and two riders who we know can fight for the podium.