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Hayden takes home victory amidst U.S. heatwave

Hayden takes home victory amidst U.S. heatwave

Hayden takes home victory amidst U.S. heatwave

Nicky Hayden took his second victory of the season today in the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, and saw his championship lead extended to 34 points with the late retirement of Valentino Rossi.

Hayden becomes the first rider to win the race after starting off the front row. Reacting sharply when the red light went out, the Kentucky Kid spent the first half of the race on the trail of poleman Chris Vermeulen, finally passing him on lap 17. After that, the American was untroubled by the chasing pack and crossed the line with a 3.186 second advantage over team-mate Dani Pedrosa.

The Spanish rookie, racing on U.S. soil for the first time in his career, looked to keep up the pace on his fellow Repsol Honda rider after fighting through a series of rivals. A high pressure battle with Casey Stoner saw the Australian slide off on lap 15, ending his race. Pedrosa then gradually moved up through the podium places and settled in second with a comfortable advantage.

Marco Melandri, who had started slowly, was in contention for the podium late on in the race, and was one of a number of riders to take advantage of Valentino Rossi's exit from the race on the final laps. The Fortuna Honda rider overtook Vermeulen to take third in both the race and the World Championship.

Kenny Roberts Jr was the second highest finishing home rider, taking the holeshot from the front row and keeping up the pace even when passed by a handful of riders. Following Melandri, Roberts was also able to pass Vermeulen in the closing stages.

Rizla Suzuki's young Australian was the day's standout performer, defying many people's expectations and holding onto the lead before finally being hunted down by Hayden. It was only towards the conclusion of the race that the 24 year old rookie bowed out of the podium places.

Team-mate John Hopkins completed the top six, ahead of Carlos Checa, Loris Capirossi, front row starter Colin Edwards and Sete Gibernau.

Alongside Hayden's victory, the big story of the day was the enforced retirement of Valentino Rossi. The reigning World Champion looked to be closing in on the rostrum after a flying series of laps, and a repeat of his previous comebacks this season looked to be on the cards. However, on lap 29, after seeing smoke spew from the back of his M1, the Italian star was obliged to return to the pits and leave Laguna Seca without points.


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