“We've had a very eventful season but this is a fantastic moment”
Repsol Honda's Nicky Hayden clinched MotoGP Riders' World Championship, on Sunday, in the climax to one of the most dramatic Grand Prix seasons ever.
The 25-year-old American star put in a brilliant
performance under intense pressure to bring his RC211V home in third place and overturn an eight point deficit to out-going world champion Valentino Rossi. Hayden's third place was enough to take the title by five points from Rossi, who crashed and remounted to finish 13th.
Both Repsol Hondas made good starts, with Hayden passing pole-man Rossi into the first corner and quickly moving up the field. Ahead of him was Dani Pedrosa who'd made a lightning get-away from sixth on the grid. With Hayden behind him, Pedrosa let his team- mate by and dropped back to ease the pressure on Hayden. When Rossi fell on lap five, Hayden's game-plan changed as the American opted to control the points gap to Rossi instead of fighting for the win. His plan worked, and Hayden crossed the line to take Honda's fourth riders' title in the five years of the 990cc MotoGP era.
21-year-old Pedrosa played the part of the perfect team-mate and brought his RCV home in fourth place, consolidating his fifth place in the world championship and confirming his status as Rookie of the Year.
This fantastic result means that the Repsol Honda Team has made a clean sweep in 2006, taking the Riders', Constructors' and Team championships, as well as Pedrosa's Rookie of the Year title and Hayden's Best MotoGP Qualifier Award.
"During the last five laps I was praying so hard for the race to finish!" said Makoto Tanaka, team manager. "I want say from the bottom of my heart: ‘Congratulations and thank you very much to Nicky'. We didn't win the race today but it was such a valuable result that it was like a one-two finish. Both Nicky and Dani have done the perfect job today."
"We've had a very eventful season but this is a fantastic moment and we can enjoy it to the full. So I want to say thank you again to the riders who have worked very hard. Also thanks to the fans and to all our sponsors for their excellent support. Now all the team can celebrate this fantastic moment together," concluded Makoto Tanaka.