MotoGP » Official: Nicky Hayden makes MotoGP return at Aragon

"I'll try to learn something and have a little fun" - Nicky Hayden

MotoGP » Official: Nicky Hayden makes MotoGP return at Aragon

AS rumoured, former world champion Nicky Hayden will make a one-off MotoGP return at Aragon this weekend, riding for the Marc VDS Honda team. 

The American, who spent 13 seasons in grand prix before joining World Superbike this year, is to replace the injured Jack Miller. 

"I love racing motorcycles, so I'm looking forward to it," Hayden said. "My home is Superbike now, so this ain't some try-out to go back; this is just a case of a fellow Honda team needing a rider. 

"I'll go and try to enjoy it," added the #69. "I know it's tough in MotoGP and I've never ridden those Michelin tyres, but I'll try to learn something and have a little fun." 

Miller needs more time away from the bike to heal hand fractures sustained last month in Austria and is sacrificing Aragon with the aim of being fully fit for the flyaway rounds, including his home Australian event. 

“First of all I want to wish Jack a speedy recovery," Hayden said in the official Marc VDS press release. "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. For me it just a chance to go and have fun. 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 tyres 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." 

Hayden last used Michelin rubber in 2008, the year before MotoGP switched to control Bridgestone tyres. Michelin took over the exclusive tyre supply this season. 2008 was also the last time Hayden rode a full specification RCV, the #69 spending his last two MotoGP seasons on Open-class Honda machinery at the Aspar team. 

The 35-year-old is currently fifth in his rookie World Superbike season for Ten Kate Honda, claiming four podiums, including a wet victory at Sepang. His best MotoGP result at Aragon is a third place, for Ducati, at the 2010 event. 

Miller meanwhile is one of eight different MotoGP race winners this season, claiming his victory in the wet Assen round. That was also the first win by a satellite Honda rider since 2006, the year Hayden won the MotoGP title for Repsol Honda. 

"Obviously we'd have preferred Jack to be racing in Aragon, but it's the racing that is stopping the two fractures in his hand healing properly," explained team principal Michael Bartholemy. "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 tyres and new electronics. I am sure he will do a stand up job for us." 

Another WorldSBK regular, Alex Lowes, will also be on track at Aragon - the Englishman replacing the injured Bradley Smith at tech 3 Yamaha for a third event. 

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