The MotoGP paddock will see the return of Nicky Hayden, albeit only for a solitary round, as the American will substitute at the Aragon GP for the still recovering Jack Miller.
Some fans may be surprised to learn that Hayden almost replaced at the British GP at Silverstone, with the World Superbike rider instructed to bring his leathers to England, just in case Jack Miller was deemed unfit to ride.
That chance ultimately didn’t materialize for Hayden, but with Miller sitting out the San Marino GP, again to nurture his hand injury, there again is a need for Hayden to pack his leathers, and head to the MotoGP paddock.
Releasing a press release today, the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing team has confirmed Nicky Hayden as replacing Jack Miller for the Spanish round at Motorland Aragon.
“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,” said Hayden in the team’s press release.
“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 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,” Hayden finished in the press release.
Talking to Asphalt & Rubber, Hayden made it clear that next weekend’s fill-in wasn’t an attempt by the Kentucky Kid to make a return to the MotoGP paddock. Instead, Hayden says he is merely helping out another Honda team, as part of his good relationship with the Japanese manufacturer.
“Yeah you know, I love racing motorcycles, but my home is Superbike now. My goals are here, this ain’t some tryout, ‘oh i wanna go back,’ – this is just the cace of a fellow Honda team needing a rider,” Hayden said to us.
“I’m healthy, and I’ll try to enjoy it. I know it’s never easy to have fun in that paddock, because it’s so tough, but I’ll try go to learn something and try to have a little fun.”
Hayden is a logical choice to replace Jack Miller at Aragon, since he is familiar already with the machinery and race course. However, Hayden has never ridden with the Michelin tires, nor with the spec-electronics, so his return will still take some transitioning.
We know we won’t be the only ones who are happy to see Hayden return to riding a MotoGP race bike however, with the former MotoGP World Champion still immensely popular in the GP paddock, not only with teams and riders, but also with the MotoGP fans.