Nicky Hayden is to get back to action after four races away recovering from surgery. The American had an operation to remove a row of bones in his right hand after the Sachsenring round of MotoGP, to deal with a chronic problem of pain and arthritis in his wrist. That problem stemmed from an injury he picked up back in 2011 at Valencia, his wrist, and especially his scaphoid, never fully healing again afterwards. Hayden had the scaphoid and two other bones removed, to prevent them from causing further problems.
Such a drastic surgical procedure required a long recovery time, Hayden having been absent from the MotoGP paddock for over two months. But his recovery has been progressing well, with strength and motion returning. Hayden has spent a lot of time riding dirt track, to get back the feel of racing a motorcycle, and now feels fit enough to attempt to ride a MotoGP bike again. The differences between riding dirt track and a MotoGP bike are large, and will show whether Hayden's wrist is strong enough yet or not. The American's aim at the moment is just to get the feel of riding a MotoGP bike again, and test his wrist. With three races back-to-back coming up after Aragon, it is a sensible precaution to try his wrist first, with time for it to recover afterwards.
The return of Hayden means that there will once again be an American on the GP grid. With Hayden absent, Josh Herrin having lost his Moto2 ride at the Caterham team, a 12-year string of races with at least one American on the grid starts came to an end. Hayden's return marks the start of a new streak, with news emerging that a second US rider will be on the grid at Aragon. The Teluru JiR Team hinted on their Twitter account that they will have an American rider replacing the injured Tetsuta Nagashima at Aragon. They then went on to thank Palmeto Kawasaki, who run the Kawasaki team in the Spanish CEV Superbike championship. Palmeto have three riders: The Venezuelan Robertino Pietri, the Spaniard Lucas De Ulacia, and the American Kenny Noyes. That suggests that Noyes will be back in action on a Moto2 machine, after an absence of three years. Noyes is currently involved in close, three-way battle for the championship in the CEV, but the dates of that series do not clash with the MotoGP calendar. Whether that means that Noyes will be replacing Nagashima for the rest of the season remains to be seen, though the fact that he spent 2 years in the class, scoring a pole position in the process, makes him an obvious choice.
Below is the press release from Aspar on Hayden's return:
Nicky Hayden excited to return to MotoGP action
DRIVE M7 Aspar returns after four-race absence and hopes to quickly recover strength and speed
The MotoGP World Championship returns to Spain for the third time this season this weekend as the final round on European soil before the season-defining flyaway races takes place at Motorland, Aragon. Motorland is one of the 'newest' additions to the calendar and also one of the most challenging, with virtually every kind of corner and two long straights packed into its 5km layout. After victory for Valentino Rossi at Misano last time out, Jorge Lorenzo is the only rider in the top four yet to win a race this season so he will be looking to put that right on Sunday, whilst Marc Márquez cannot win the title on home soil this weekend after failing to make the podium for the first time this season at the San Marino round.
The paddock will be pleased to welcome back one of its most charismatic figures as DRIVE M7 Aspar Team rider Nicky Hayden returns from a four-race absence. The American underwent surgery on his right wrist in July but he has undergone an intense recovery programme and after riding some dirt-track in recent weeks he feels ready to test himself on his MotoGP bike again at a circuit where he stood on the podium in 2010. His DRIVE M7 Aspar team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama has been one of the most consistent riders in 2014 and after making some solid recent progress the Japanese rider is aiming to maintain this trend until the end of the season.
Nicky Hayden: “I am really happy to finally return to action this weekend. Racing motorcycles is not only my job but my passion and it hasn't been easy for me to miss so many races. I just focused on getting back as quickly as possible but riding a MotoGP is not something you can test your fitness for until you try it. I have been riding quite a bit of dirt-track lately but I can't say for sure how strong I am so I am looking forward to getting on the bike and seeing the results of the operation. At the moment I don't want to set any objectives other than to get back out there and see how I feel. I am looking forward to seeing the team again and I can't wait to get back to the serious work on Friday. My arm and wrist feel quite strong and the movement has improved. I didn't want to come back until I knew I had done everything I could to recover and I am happy with the result. I managed to get on the podium the first year we raced at Motorland, I quite like the circuit and it has some fun corners.”
Hiroshi Aoyama: “I am excited about racing at Aragón this weekend. There are only five races left this season and I want a good result from each of them - especially Motorland because it comes directly before my home Grand Prix in Japan so I want to go there in good form. Aragón is also an important race for the team because it is one of their home races. Motorland is a cool circuit, I guess the long straight will penalise us in respect to some of our rivals but the rest of the track should suit our bike. Misano didn't go as well as we hoped but we are making decent progress at the moment and hopefully we can continue to do so this weekend.”