Ducati Marlboro Team rider Nicky Hayden was cruelly sent tumbling out of the San Marino Grand Prix on the opening lap of a disastrous race at Misano after colliding with wayward local rider Alex de Angelis. Hayden had made a superb start from the second row of the grid and was ideally placed to maximise the optimum race pace he had shown in practice and warm-up. However, a late braking manoeuvre from the San Marinese in the second turn left the American with no time or space to react and his rear wheel was clipped, sending him to the ignominy and frustration of the gravel trap.
Consolidation was at hand for the team thanks to a creditable seventh place finish for Mika Kallio, making his final appearance for the team before making way for regular rider Casey Stoner. The Australian was given a huge show of support today by the thousands of Ducatisti packed into the “Variante del Parco” corner, who held up a giant mosaic that read ‘I love 27’ before roaring on Kallio to his best ever MotoGP result. The Finn now returns to the satellite Pramac Ducati team with the thanks and best wishes of everybody at Ducati Marlboro Team, who eagerly await the return of Stoner in Estoril.
MIKA KALLIO (Ducati Marlboro Team) (7th)
“It wasn’t a perfect race and there is always something we can improve on but I think we can be more or less happy with that. I made a decent start but I lost some positions in the first corner, which I wasn’t happy about, and then the crash in turn two happened right in front of me. I had to back off and pick a line through the debris, which cost me time and a couple of positions. The guys who came past were slower than me but I struggled to find places to pass them over the opening few laps. By the time I worked myself up to seventh the group of Elias, Dovizioso and Capirossi was four seconds clear of me. I was gaining on them in some areas and losing in others, Melandri was also pushing me hard from behind so I couldn’t relax at any point. It was a tough race and I’d hoped for more – maybe a top five or top six position, but unfortunately we lost that possibility at the start. Finally I’d like to thank everybody at Ducati for the faith they showed in me by giving me the ride and the support they have given me over the last few races, and I wish Casey well on his return. Hopefully I can take some positives back to my team and continue to make progress between now and the end of the season.”
NICKY HAYDEN – (Ducati Marlboro Team) (DNF)
“It’s easy to say it now but I just know I was set for a good race today so I’m extremely disappointed. Maybe I wasn’t going to win the race but I at least could have run with the front guys for a while and given all the Ducatisti to cheer for, as well as picking up some vital experience and data for this machine and having some fun myself! To be honest I had a feeling De Angelis might create some drama here. He’s at home and fighting for his job and when I saw him in the corner of my eye I just tried to gas it and get out of his way. Unfortunately he slightly clipped my rear wheel and that was the last I knew about it. I know in racing people can make mistakes and I have done plenty in my life but I’m not happy with Alex because this wasn’t racing – it was just stupid to try and pull a move like that on cold tyres, in the second corner on the first lap. Anyway, we’re all okay and looking forward to Portugal.”
CLAUDIO DOMENICALI (General Director Ducati Motor Holding)
“Today was a day to reflect on because there were plenty of positives and negatives to take out of it: I’m really disappointed for Nicky because he was having a good weekend and we had made a tyre choice for the race that gave him even more confidence with the front. The incident, which he was not responsible for at all, definitely denied him the chance of a great race. Mika picked up his best result of the season here after setting a good pace throughout the race. Obviously we are all missing Casey a lot, as are our fans, who made that wonderful gesture with the giant heart. This GP signals the end of a period in which we have had to manage without him and they have been a difficult few weeks, but I am extremely satisfied with the way everybody in the team has pulled together. So I want to personally thank all of them – from Filippo (Preziosi), who has worked hard to make the bike more manageable, Livio (Suppo), who has led the team on the battlefield, and all the other guys who have never given less than their maximum every day.”