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Hayden completes dream weekend with debut win at Laguna Seca

Hayden completes dream weekend with debut win at Laguna Seca

Hayden completes dream weekend with debut win at Laguna Seca

Nicky Hayden joined a long list of American racing legends today as he became a MotoGP winner for the first time in his career at the Red Bull US Grand Prix. The 23 year old Honda rider led his home race from start to finish, bolting from pole position and leaving the rest of the 21-rider field trailing in his wake. With celebrities including Brad Pitt, Matt LeBlanc and Michael Jordan amongst the 57,932 sell-out crowd cheering him throughout 32 intense laps, Hayden established a two-second advantage over the chasing Valentino Rossi in the first part of the race and then held strong under late pressure from compatriot Colin Edwards to take a memorable first win.

"I can honestly say that this is a dream come true for me," said Hayden, who admitted climbing over the Laguna Seca fences to witness the last Grand Prix here as a 12-year-old in 1994. "You spend your whole life rehearsing the speech for a day like this but now it has happened I can't find the words to describe how I feel. It hasn't been easy for me in MotoGP over the past two seasons but every dog has its day and this was mine. Hopefully it can be the start of bigger things from now on."

With Edwards having snatched second place from Rossi with a daring move in the Corkscrew corner at the halfway stage of the race, the American fans were able to celebrate a memorable home one-two in the first MotoGP race here for over a decade. With Edwards also celebrating consecutive podium finishes for the first time in his Grand Prix career, Rossi was equally delighted with a tenth straight rostrum in third place, which extended his series lead to a massive 79 points over Marco Melandri, who crashed out with Alex Barros at the end of a combative first lap.

As well as losing ground on Rossi in the championship Melandri is also coming under pressure for second place from Max Biaggi, who took fourth place today to close the gap to just seven points. Sete Gibernau is also looming a further five points behind Biaggi after a spirited ride today, when he charged from thirteenth on the grid to take fifth place in his first visit to the Californian circuit.

After initially fighting with Rossi for second place on the opening lap, Troy Bayliss progressively lost ground until becoming involved in an intense battle in the second half of the race for sixth place. The Australian eventually got the better of Makoto Tamada to record his best result of the season, with the Japanese rider taking an impressive seventh just ten days after undergoing surgery on an arm problem.

John Hopkins, Shinya Nakano and Loris Capirossi also joined in the skirmish with Bayliss and Tamada before eventually crossing the line in eighth, ninth and tenth respectively, whilst Ruben Xaus came home in a lonely eleventh. Further back, Toni Elías produced a determined performance on his return from a three-race absence through injury but eventually conceded twelfth place to Alex Hofmann on the line. Kenny Roberts Jr. and Shane Byrne completed the top fifteen, with Byrne picking up an historic first point for the KTM-powered Proton KR machine.


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