After learning that Nicky Hayden’s teammate Dani Pedrosa took him out at Estoril last Sunday, and then watching video tape of the incident several times, I knew that I needed to back away from my dictaphone and let this incident sink in. I thought my first reaction might be rash. I thought a couple of days to “sleep on it” would give me a better perspective. I was wrong.
I thought then, and I still think, that this incident is inexcusable. In fact, I do not believe I have ever witnessed anything in any sport quite like it. Near the start of the penultimate round, with his teammate holding a points lead in the championship, Pedrosa attempted to slice inside of Hayden (while Hayden was on the race line — the fast race line!), lost traction and slid his bike into Hayden’s, ultimately sending both riders and their machines tumbling into the gravel.
Forget special “team orders” (HRC may not believe in those), how about the standing order on any team — an order that exists from the first race of the season — don’t take out your teammate. Save your most aggressive, foolhardy passing attempts for everyone else. You can race your teammate, and you can pass your teammate . . . but be extra careful not to punt him. Particularly if he is leading the championship. Pedrosa’s move made the proverbial “bull in a china shop” look controlled by comparison.
We still don’t know quite what to say about this — we are still stunned here at MD. Nicky Hayden could still win the MotoGP championship at the final race, and we will reserve final comment until after the series has ended.