American Hayden hopes to defend Laguna title Repsol Honda’s American World Champion Nicky Hayden will this weekend be gunning for a third successive victory in front of his home fans at the U.S. Grand Prix. The 25-year-old from Owensboro, Kentucky, will be determined to maintain his record as the only rider to have won in the MotoGP class at the Laguna Seca circuit in California. Hayden took his first ever MotoGP victory on the series’ return to Laguna in 2005 and won again last season on his way to the 2006 World Title.
Hayden has struck form just in time for his home race after shrugging off a very difficult first half of the season. The previous two races in the Netherlands and last weekend in Germany have seen Hayden back to his combative best, producing stunning rides to the podium after qualifying in 13th and 14th places respectively. If he can gain a better grid position at Laguna few doubt the American will be a contender for victory again in Sunday’s 32-lap race.
Hayden will celebrate his 26th birthday just eight days after the U.S. Grand Prix. If he completes the hat-trick of Laguna Seca victories on Sunday, it’ll be the perfect early birthday present as the World Championship heads into its four-week summer break.
The Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix weekend begins on Friday with two practice sessions, followed by a further hour of practice on Saturday morning ahead of qualifying in the afternoon. Sunday begins with a 25-minute warm-up in the morning before the lights go out for the race start at 14.00hrs local time (23.00hrs CET).
Nicky Hayden “It’s a big thrill to be going back to Laguna for my home race and I’m really looking forward to having some fun there. There’s actually a lot less pressure this year compared to last season because in 2006 I went to Laguna with a points lead in the championship and I really felt like I had to win that race or it would send out all the wrong signals to my title rivals. I was the favorite really and there was a lot of pressure to win. There will still be pressure, but I’m less of a favorite this time. I don’t really think the home advantage counts for much now. We’ve been here for two years and these boys can get the hang of the place pretty quickly – we’re not talking club racers here. Plus a lot of the home advantage used to be on the blind approach to the Corkscrew and they’ve changed that part of the track now. Still, I really like the circuit and I’ll definitely be giving it all I’ve got to get that third straight win in front of my home fans. It’ll be fun racing against my brother for the first time in a while too. Things have been tough this year and nothing’s gone real silky smooth, but we’ve had a couple of decent results in the last two races so I’m definitely going to fight for this one. We’ve had some improvements to the machine recently and I’ve got a better feeling on it than I did at the start of the season. The competition’s really strong in MotoGP and no-one’s here to make up the numbers but I feel like I’ve got nothing to lose now so I’m just going get out there and ride my hardest this weekend.”
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