Nicky Hayden returns to MotoGP this weekend at Aragon as a fill-in rider for injured EG 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller. The rumors bounced around at the German World Superbike round, where Hayden scored his fourth podium in his debut season in the championship. The 2006 World Champion confirmed that the fill-in ride was a possibility that he was interested in, and that possibility was confirmed this morning with a team issued release.
“Obviously we’d have preferred Jack (Miller) to be racing in Aragon, but it’s the racing that is stopping the two fractures in his hand healing properly,” Team Principal Michael Bartholemy said. “It makes sense to have him sit out this race in a bid to recover ahead of the three overseas races, one of which is his home race in Australia. I’m looking forward to welcoming Nicky into the team and I want to thank Honda and Ten Kate for releasing him to ride this weekend. As a former MotoGP World Champion for Honda he brings with him a wealth of experience, which will be critical given the steep learning curve he faces with a new bike, new tires and new electronics. I am sure he will do a stand up job for us.”
Although Hayden has 13 years of experience in Grand Prix racing, stepping in as a fill-in rider is a new experience for him.
Jack Miller had a pair of nasty crashes, first at the Red Bull Ring and then Silverstone. So it was decided it was best for the young Australian to sit out of Aragon to heal up before his home Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
“First of all I want to wish Jack a speedy recovery,” Hayden said about Miller. “He is a buddy of mine and he is a rider I believe in a lot, so I hope he can get healthy as quickly as possible to show the high potential we all know he has got. He just needs to get his body right so he can perform. This is an unusual experience for me because I’ve never been a stand-in rider before. But I have a good relationship with Honda and when the idea first came up they were behind it and Ten Kate gave me their blessing, so it is nice to go and help out another Honda team.”
Hayden is looking forward to throwing his leg over a MotoGP bike in competition once again, but the 35 year old is very realistic about the challenge ahead of him. He’s not going over there set the world on fire, but to have some fun.
“For me it just a chance to go and have fun,” Hayden said. “I’d probably be riding motorbikes anyway and I would definitely be watching the race on TV, so I might as well show up and have some fun. I know MotoGP is not a place that’s always easy to have fun because the level is so high but I’ve got a lot to learn and it won’t be a walk in the park. I haven’t ridden the bike and there are different tires and electronics but I’ve got a lot of experience and I get another shot at MotoGP, which is great for me personally. I want to thank Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS for the opportunity and Ten Kate and my sponsors who all made it happen and I will try and do them all proud.”