Nicky Hayden is to make a temporary return to MotoGP. The American is to spend his weekend off between WorldSBK races filling in for the injured Jack Miller at the Aragon round of MotoGP. Hayden is to ride Miller's Marc VDS Honda RC213V, marking his first ride on a full MotoGP bike since he left Ducati at the end of 2013.
Miller has chosen to skip the Aragon round after suffering problems with a hand injury he picked up in a crash in Austria. The bones in his right hand have been slow to heal, and the intense MotoGP schedule since the series' return after the summer break has meant the injury has been getting worse. The stresses of braking and accelerating on a MotoGP bike have caused the fractures to reopen. The problem became so severe at Misano that the Australian was forced to withdraw from the race.
With three back-to-back flyaway races coming up after Aragon, Miller and his Marc VDS Racing team have decided to have the Australian sit out the Spanish race. This gives Miller five weeks for the bones in his right hand to heal before the flyaways, and the season finale at Valencia two weeks after that.
Nicky Hayden will get a chance to ride a full MotoGP Honda on Michelin tires, something he missed out on at Silverstone. The American was on standby to replace Miller if the Australian was not passed fit due to cracked vertebrae. Miller was fit enough to ride at the British round of MotoGP, but his hand injury has since worsened. Hayden does have experience with Michelin tires, having raced on them up until the end of 2008, when the spec tire was introduced and the entire field switched to Bridgestone tires.
Nicky Hayden to replace Jack Miller at Motorland Aragon
Former MotoGP World Champion and current World Superbike front-runner Nicky Hayden will replace injured Jack Miller in the Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS squad for this weekend’s Grand Prix of Aragon in Spain.
Hayden will ride Miller’s Honda RC213V machine in this weekend’s 23-lap MotoGP encounter at the 5.1km Motorland Aragon track, which hosts round 14 of the World Championship.
Australian rider Miller is unfit to participate in this weekend’s action while he continues to recuperate from fractures in his right hand, which was an injury he first picked up in a high speed fall during the Warm-up session at the Red Bull Ring in Austria in mid-August.
Miller bravely raced to a 16th place finish in Silverstone’s British Grand Prix and then attempted similar heroics at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli last time out. Miller courageously rode in practice and qualifying in San Marino but the constant pain meant he withdrew ahead of the race.
Additional medical checks carried out immediately after the San Marino race revealed Miller has been riding with two fractures in his right hand.
The constant stress on the hand while riding has slowed the healing process and Miller, in consultation with HRC and the team has decided the most appropriate course of action is to miss this weekend’s Motorland Aragon encounter.
It is hoped the opportunity to take a lengthy period of rest and recuperation will give the 21-year-old the best chance possible of being fit to commence the gruelling flyaway triple-header in Japan next month.
Hayden brings a wealth of experience to Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS for this weekend’s race, which includes a podium in the inaugural Motorland Aragon race back in 2010.
The popular American started 216 races between 2003 and 2015 and claimed three victories and 25 other podium finishes. The highlight of the 35-year-old’s career was undoubtedly his World Championship success in 2006 when he defeated Valentino Rossi in a nail-biting final round decider in Valencia.
Tito Rabat will certainly be hoping to benefit from Hayden’s vast knowledge at a track where he has enjoyed tremendous success in the past.
The Spaniard hasn’t finished lower than second in the last three Moto2 races at Motorland Aragon, including a victory last year, and he is fully focused and determined to bounce back from a difficult race in San Marino.
“First of all I want to wish Jack a speedy recovery. 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."
"At Misano I made another small improvement, even if that wasn't reflected in the results, but now we head to my home Grand Prix at Aragon. The Aragon track is one that I like and one at which I've enjoyed some success in the past, but this will be my first time there on a MotoGP bike so we have some work to do in practice. I'm motivated and I feel strong, so we will see how it goes."
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"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. 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. Tito had a tough time in San Marino, but his resilience is one of his strongest points and I fully expect him to bounce back and continue improving this weekend, on a track at which he's enjoyed a lot of success in the past."