Motorcycling: Young guns put heat on Hayden

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The Independent Online

Pedrosa made a memorable debut in MotoGP by coming second at Jerez, while Stoner was runner-up in Turkey last week.

Now Nicky Hayden, 24, and Marco Melandri, 23, previously regarded as the riders most likely to break Valentino Rossi's five-year hold on the MotoGP title, are looking positively aged compared to the duo.

Hayden leads the standings, but has not won a race and has been beaten by both Pedrosa and Stoner.

However, inexperience is likely to tell against the newcomers over 17 gruelling rounds. Hayden is riding with more spirit than ever and knows his credibility rests on this season: he has had three years on top bikes, while Melandri, who calmly motored past Stoner to win in Turkey is also a favourite.

Yet even though Rossi is back in fifth place in the table, he will remain calm and can still grind out the wins to collect his sixth title.