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Hayden confidence returning at head of second row

Hayden confidence returning at head of second row

Home rider Nicky Hayden ignored the pain in his injured right foot to put his Honda RC212V fourth on the grid at the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix.

Sporting a special helmet featuring the logo of his favourite NFL team, the Indianapolis Colts, local hero Nicky Hayden was back on form in qualifying for the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix - as he secured a starting slot at the head of the second row.

The rain which affected Friday´s proceedings was nowhere to be seen on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon at the new Indianapolis Motor Speedway track, and Hayden looked far more comfortable than on his ill-fated and short-lived Misano appearance, as he qualified fourth for what will be his first race since Laguna Seca in July.

The 2006 World Champion was very briefly on provisional pole, but ended up just missing out on the front row by 0.094s - and after a similarly strong showing in the Saturday morning free practice session he was upbeat about his prospects for Sunday´s historic first ever race at his new home circuit.

`Things are certainly a lot better than they were on Friday, when I felt miserable out there!´ Hayden told `I was hydroplaning and really had no confidence, but today I took the skirt off it and gassed it up a little bit. The bike was working really well and in these conditions I quite like the track, it has got some flowing sections to it.´

Acknowledging the support from his chief mechanic Pete Benson and his staff of mechanics, Hayden added, `The team did a good job, we have made some definite improvements and I feel a lot better. My race pace wasn´t too bad so hopefully we can be competitive tomorrow.´

Commenting on the condition of his right foot, in which he has a broken bone in the heel, Hayden stated, `It is definitely a lot better than at Misano and the track is going left here a lot more. It is not tearfully painful, but it stings. There is some more strength in it.´

With predictions that Hurricane Ike could be headed in the direction of the new IMS MotoGP layout on Sunday, Hayden looked ahead to the race, saying, `It would be awesome for all these fans and for everybody who has waited a long time in this part of the world to see MotoGP, if they could get to see a real dry race. But whatever the conditions are I have just got to ride as hard as I can, and have some fun. I don't have a lot to lose, I just need to try and get in there and be competitive.´

MotoGP, 2008, RED BULL INDIANAPOLIS GRAND PRIX, Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda Team

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