For the first quarter of the British Grand Prix, there was a Ducati racing at the front in a dry race, something we’ve not seen for some time. Almost as soon as Nicky Hayden crossed the line with 15 of 20 laps to go, his GP12 changed from something that could match the pace of the leaders into something else entirely.
Hayden lost fourth place to Lorenzo, then fifth to Dovizioso, both times going wide as his bike suddenly wouldn’t turn like it had been doing for the previous four laps. Hayden said in his post-race media scrum that the bike had been great until it destroyed the soft rear tire.
Earlier, when I’d walked onto pit lane and headed for the grid, we felt sprinkles in the air and wondered if the volatile weather was about to change from cool-but-dry to wet-and-even-colder, as it had several times over the weekend.
It seemed unlikely that it would start raining hard enough to begin the race on wet tires, but up and down pit lane crew chiefs appeared from their boxes, looking up at the skies, wondering what to do. Soft or hard tires? Dry, cool, warm, damp, what would the track be like over the course of twenty laps?
Hayden’s crew went with the soft choice, as all but Rossi had done, and that tire lasted four laps before going off to the point that Hayden couldn’t stop the bike and it started getting chatter. He fought the rest of the way to hold as many positions as possible, ultimately ending the day 7th, top Ducati, and just over 15 seconds behind the winner.
After the race, Hayden tried to be positive about finishing only 15 seconds back and having kept race pace at the start. But if you look at this week’s photo, the eyes show that there is only one thing that really matters. While others of us can look at Sunday’s race and say it was a great result for someone on a GP12, for the rider, only a victory means that the job got done.
Scott Jones is a professional photographer who covers MotoGP and WSBK for racing industry clients as well as racing websites and publications in the U.S. and Europe. His online archive is available at Photo.GP, and you can find him on his blog, Twitter, & Facebook.
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Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved