For the second race in a row, Nicky Hayden returned to riding at his former championship level. At Sachsenring for the German MotoGP, starting 14th on the grid, he finished on the podium in 3rd behind Pedrosa and Capirossi. This follows his 13th to 3rd run at Assen. Two 3rd place finishes in a row after a first half season without a podium indicates something has changed and none too soon since his next race is in front of the home crowd at Laguna Seca, where he has won the last 2 years in a row. To win here, however, he needs to qualify in the front instead of using the race to make up for a bad spot on the grid.
What's the change in the last two races? Is it something from the Honda crew that improved the bike? Did Michelin bring better tires? Or did Nicky just get his game together and run a great race? It may be some combination of the three but whatever the reason, he'll need every bit of it and maybe a little more when he comes home to the U.S. This could be interesting.