Hayden: Loose handlebar cost me sixth
Nicky Hayden believes he could have finished in the top six in the Dutch TT at Assen on Saturday had his left handlebar not come loose halfway through the 26-lap race.
The American former world champion, who has struggled to be competitive since switching to Ducati, seemed to finally be making some headway and was part of a giant mulit-bike battle for sixth for most of the race.
"I was having great fun but unfortunately the left handlebar came kind of loose about halfway through the race and cost me a lot of time -- that's when a lot of the guys got past me," he said. "I know I'm coming out with a lot of excuses this year but a loose handlebar at that speed is pretty scary!
"The guys are looking at how it happened. Anyway, man it was a hard battle."
Hayden nevertheless came away encouraged from his improved form as he looks ahead to his home race at Laguna Seca next weekend.
"When you start from 13th you are always going to have a lot of work to do but that was the best bike I've had underneath me all season so I want to say a huge 'thank you' to the team for that, they have worked so hard," he said.
"I got a great start and was able to lead the second group for a while until a couple of guys came past and I lost my rhythm a bit.
"I made a little mistake under braking on the back straight, ran wide and lost a lot of time but I fought back and got in with the group again.
"I know we were only fighting for fifth or sixth but it felt like there was a title on the line out there! Big respect to everybody in the group though. [Toni] Elias made a big mistake but everybody left it all out on the track today and we all shook hands afterwards. It was good to be a part of the battle."