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Hayden and Biaggi hard at work in Germany

Hayden and Biaggi hard at work in Germany

Hayden and Biaggi hard at work in Germany

Nicky Hayden took his second podium finish in three races with team-mate Max Biaggi one place behind in a hard-fought race in front of 95,000 captivated fans in yesterday's German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring.

After six laps of the ‘first race' it was red flagged for safety reasons when Suzuki-mounted John Hopkins crashed out, escaping injury. The new grid was made up using the positions that the riders held when the race was stopped. As Hayden had lead from the flag he started from the front again while Biaggi, who suffered a poor start, started from the third row of the new grid having been placed in eighth place on the lap before the race was stopped.

Hayden once again got the hole shot for the 25-lap race and lead until the start of the third lap when Valentino Rossi overtook him at the end of the start and finish straight. Later on the same lap Sete Gibernau squeezed past at the bottom of the hill. The American, who celebrated his 24th birthday yesterday, regrouped and sat behind world champion Rossi for 11 laps before out-braking him to regain second spot. Four laps before the end of the race Rossi slipped past again and on the last lap took the lead when Gibernau out-braked himself at the end of the straight.

Hayden's efforts reward him with 16 points. There are now just 15 points separating Marco Melandri who lies second in the championship and Hayden in seventh. An epic battle should follow over the remaining seven races in the fight for second place in the final standings. Hayden returns to America tomorrow and on Tuesday he and his racing brothers, Tommy and Roger Lee, will be special guests on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno – the prime time US evening chat show.

"I really thought I might have something for them at the end of the race but it wasn't to be," reflected Hayden. "In the last few laps I closed right up on them. I'm not happy about third but I'm happy about what I learned today. I was riding with two of the top guys in the world and I went to school on them for 30 laps. I feel like I learned a lot from them. I told my boys last night that we could be looking at 25 points but it wasn't to be. They did a great job and got the bike set-up real well. Once you get that taste for winning you just want more. After so long being off the top of the box, Laguna felt so, so good. I just want that feeling back again real bad and soon."

Biaggi, as has so often been the case this season, struggled for set-up in practice and qualifying and wasn't entirely happy at a circuit he has gone so well at in the past. His 11th placing in the morning's warm-up session indicated the he had much work to do in the race. The Italian got a good start and had a race-long battle with Honda-mounted Alex Barros that he eventually won to finish a creditable fourth.

"Well, not so good again I'm afraid," admitted Biaggi. "I had to start from the third row as the first race was not so good and I was lying in eighth place when the race was stopped. In the end I made it past Barros and we get fourth place but I am not satisfied, how can I be? We are still fighting with the same problems all season. The front is still jumping and has chatter. It really makes me mad as I know I still have the ability and the motivation to win. At the moment we can only finish on the back and I am very frustrated. I never give up. I will train hard over the next few weeks and will come back after the break at Brno full of spirit for the race and for the rest of the season."


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