FORMER MOTOGP champion Nicky Hayden was the toast of the Marlboro Ducati team last night, following his fourth place finish in the opening round of the 2010 MotoGP season.
The American made a welcome return to form during the 22-lap night race, although Hayden admits that being so close to a podium position but not actually standing on the rostrum still 'hurts'.
Speaking after the race, the Kentucky Kid said:
“Man! I really didn’t expect to be so tough in the race but the team made a couple of small changes that made a huge difference and right from the warm-up lap I felt good.
"I got a great start and Rossi didn’t seem a lot faster than me. In a couple of places he was getting away but I just tried to stay in there and learn something - it’s been so long since I ran at the front. If you offered me fourth place, two seconds behind Rossi, before the race I would have taken it but to be so close to the podium and not actually up there… it hurts.
"Still, it’s a long season and there are a lot of opportunities ahead of us. I’m sorry for Casey but fourth place with all the other heavies in there has got to be my best result. We got some good points in the bag so we’ll take it, get out of here and move on. Big thanks to the team and everybody at Ducati for sticking behind me and for all their hard work this winter. I hope I can repay them this year.”