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Nicky Hayden set for injury fill-in for Pedrosa at Repsol Honda

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The 2006 MotoGP World Champion, Nicky Hayden, will make a one-race return to the series and team with which he won that title, Repsol Honda, at this weekend’s MotoGP round at Phillip Island in Australia.

Hayden will deputize for Dani Pedrosa, who fractured his right collarbone last week in Motegi, Japan. Hiroshi Ayoma, Honda’s test rider, filled in at a moment’s notice, but struggled to 15th.

For Hayden, it’s a return to the team he raced through from 2003 to 2008, and a chance to race alongside three-time MotoGP and five-time overall champion Marc Marquez. He had a break in the World Superbike schedule this weekend and was thus available to fill-in for Pedrosa.

“First of all my best wishes to Dani, I’m sure he will come back stronger than ever like he always does,” Hayden said. “For me it’s crazy hard work but it’s a chance, ten year after winning my World Title, to get back to my old “dream team!”

“Doing a weekend in Phillip Island on a factory Honda, it’s pretty emotional for me to even think about it, and I’m very grateful for this opportunity and the trust that Honda gives me. I want also to thank my current team for allowing me to go and do this, and the sponsors. Everybody worked a lot on every detail to make it possible for me so now I’m excited to get on a plane, to get down to Phillip Island and hopefully I can do a good job for the team.

“Regarding Phillip Island there are two things to always consider, the weather and the tires, but it’s a track I love and I can’t wait to ride the bike there. Let’s get started on Friday morning and go forward.”

Pedrosa, who will have a further medical check on Wednesday, is out indefinitely but wished Hayden the best for the opportunity.

“I felt a strong pain for a few days after the operation, but things are starting to get a little bit better now,” he said. “I left the hospital and I have a check-up scheduled for Wednesday. Only after that will I have a better idea about the recovery time and about when I’ll be able to get back on my bike. I wish also to congratulate Marc and Honda for the title achievement.”

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.