Nicky Hayden’s poor season with Ducati this year was rounded out with a crash during the first lap at the Valencia circuit.
Nicky Hayden has been passed fit to take part in this week’s crucial 1000cc test in Valencia after he was caught up in a four-rider collision during the final Grand Prix of 2011. The American was struck by factory Ducati teammate Valentino Rossi’s GP11.1 after the Italian had been hit hard by Alvaro Bautista’s Suzuki. Hayden’s falling Ducati then wiped out Randy de Puniet, but luckily all four escaped major injury. However, Hayden took a painful blow to his right hand, though X-rays confirmed he had not suffered any broken bones in the incident and he will be fit to start testing Ducati’s new GP12 in Valencia on Tuesday.
“I just had an X-ray on my right wrist and my side and it looks like nothing is broken, so that’s positive,” said Hayden. I know we got some different frame options and I’ll definitely have the new front part to try.”
Bautista’s hopes of ending a tough 2011 MotoGP campaign with a rostrum finish in the season’s finale also ended 10 seconds into Sunday’s 30-lap race. The factory Suzuki rider lost control of his GSV-R machine in the braking zone for the first corner when he made contact with the rear tire of Andrea Dovizoso’s Repsol Honda. The Spaniard tumbled out and his Suzuki torpedoed into Rossi, Hayden and De Puniet. Bautista quickly went to Ducati’s factory garage to apologize to both Rossi and Hayden.
“It has been a bad way to end the year, because before the race I was expecting to be fighting for the podium,” said Bautista. “In all conditions we had been fast this weekend and I thought we would have a good race. In the first corner we all arrived together and I was between Andrea and Valentino. Unfortunately Andrea hit my front wheel with his rear tire and I couldn’t do anything to save the crash. The worst thing was that I hit three other riders and they crashed as well, I am sorry for them and also sorry for the team and all the fans. This year has been very tough, it didn’t start very well when I broke my left femur and, although we did a good job – especially in the middle of the season when I was totally fit – we haven’t finished with many good results. I got more and more confident in the bike as the season went on and the work we have done has been amazing, we have come such a long way.”
Hayden said the first corner melee pretty much summed up a disastrous season for Ducati in which Rossi and Hayden have scored just one podium each. Rossi’s involvement in the incident was his fourth successive crash, and the last time he scored points in a race came at the Motorland Aragon in mid-September.
“It was a first lap thing and just a domino effect,” Hayden said. “I saw it happening out of the corner of my eye but there was nothing I could do. It just looked like a racing deal to me. Dovi came down in there pretty hot and it looked like he came over pretty hard on Bautista and they collided. I was just tipping in but it was a racing deal and I’m not going to point fingers. But it’s the first lap on slicks on a wet track and obviously nobody is going to take it easy. You probably should give everybody a little room but that’s not how we think. It was unfortunate for me and the team. You come in and work all week and then to end it almost before the first corner is not good, but at least we all got up. It would have been nice to see what we could do. The guys at the front were really fast but we know our bike works really well in those conditions. It was cold and hard to get heat into the tires, and sometimes in those conditions all the Ducati’s have been on top because the carbon frame is stiff and really works the tires. We could have had a good race, but that is easy to say now and I’m sure all of us down in the first corner had that feeling.”