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Schwantz casts expert eye over Hayden´s 2008 season

Schwantz casts expert eye over Hayden´s 2008 season

1993 MotoGP World Champion looks back over 2006 titlist´s most recent year in the premier class.

One of the American predecessors to Nicky Hayden´s 2006 triumph, MotoGP Legend Kevin Schwantz was an ideal candidate for the task of assessing his stateside successor´s 2008 season. The Texan praised Hayden´s attitude in his final season as a Honda rider, and predicted good things for the next chapter of his career, as a factory Ducati man.

`Nicky´s season started a bit `up and down´… actually it was a bit more down than up,´ recalls Schwantz. `When the new (pneumatic valve engine) showed up then his form picked up a bit, but he still wasn´t quite where he needed to be.´

After some hard races against some tough rivals with the new bike, Hayden began to pick up form. There were more difficulties to come, however, when an extra-curricular two-wheel tumble threw a further spanner into the works. Schwantz knows all-too-well how taxing riding with an injury can be, and noted the particular problems presented by Hayden´s fractured heel.

`In the summer break Nicky decided to go to the ESPN X Games and play around, and he ends up injured,´ recalls the 1993 champ. `It´s hard to come back from that; as light on your feet as you need to be on these bikes, it´s never easy.´

Injuries aside, the final third of the year saw the `Kentucky Kid´ picking up his best results of the season, something that Schwantz feels was a just reward for his exemplary conduct and effort.

`It seems like his attitude has been really, really good. He wants to stay focused on having (Dani) Pedrosa behind him as much as possible. What I´m sure he is looking forward to is having a new bike and a team where his input is processed a little bit to make things better for him.´

MotoGP, 2008, Nicky Hayden

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