Nicky Hayden will race for Ducati in this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix despite being struck by his injury jinx at Aragon two weeks ago. The American suffered a horrible fall when his Ducati struck a tyre barrier, flipping him over the top, and it has since been discovered that he has a fractured radius on his right arm.
Hayden admitted he was desperate to race at Motegi though, a venue he counts among his favourites on the calendar, and hopes to get his season back on track.
“Japan has a lot of passionate fans, and it’s a place where motorcycle racing has a rich tradition, which is nice even though I wouldn’t say Motegi has been one of my favourite or best tracks. It’s the first race of three in a row, and it’s really important. I thought I had escaped unscathed from the crash at Aragon, but unfortunately it looks like I picked up another injury. When I got home, my right hand was bothering me a bit, so I went for an X-ray and CT scan, and it turns out I have a fracture in my right radius. It’s definitely not the best situation, but as it’s not too painful and I have pretty good grip strength, I’m hopeful that it won’t cause too many problems this weekend. Racing’s full of ups and downs. We’ll try to ride this one out and hopefully get a decent result in Japan to get a little momentum going and get some confidence back.”
Teammate Valentino Rossi expects Motegi to be amongst Ducati’s strongest tracks of the season but isn’t sure if they’ll be able to challenge for the podium.
“I like Motegi a lot. It’s a nice track with good grip, and I have a positive memory of last year. We steadily improved the bike’s setup over the course of the weekend, and I think I could have had a good race if I hadn’t crashed on the first lap. At the moment, we’re still missing a couple of tenths with our pace to think of the podium, but at the last two races, we were still able to ride at a good, constant rhythm until the end, which is positive. At Motegi we’ll try to continue working in this direction and to take advantage of the Ducati’s potential, which is usually very high at this track.”