Former World Champion Nicky Hayden is returning to MotoGP for at least one more race, riding for the injured Jack Miller for the Team Estrella Galicia Marc VDS team at this weekend’s race at Aragon. Hayden last raced in MotoGP last season before moving over to the Ten Kate Honda World Superbike team this year. His return, at least for the upcoming round, returns a much-missed American presence to the MotoGP grid.
“First of all I want to wish Jack a speedy recovery,” says Hayden. “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.”
Miller was ruled unfit to race after a medical checkup revealed his injured hand was worse than initially believed. Miller first hairline fractures to his right hand in a crash during warm-up at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. Miller missed the following round in Brno before returning at Silverstone where he finished 16th. Miller attempted to race at Misano but withdrew before the warmup due to severe pain.
Following the Misano race, medical checks revealed two fractures in Miller’s hand were not properly healing so the Marc VDS team, in consultation with Honda Racing Corporation, decided to replace him with Hayden for Aragon.
The Kentucky Kid has had some success at the Spanish circuit, finishing third for Ducati in the first-ever MotoGP race at Aragon. This time, he’ll be riding the Marc VDS Honda RC213V. Though he is very familiar with Honda MotoGP bikes, a lot has changed since last season.
“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,” says Hayden. “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.”
Marc VDS is hopeful that Miller can return for the Oct. 16 race at Motegi.