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Nicky Hayden

Nicky Hayden

Nicky Hayden

Nicky Hayden joined the MotoGP World Championship scene in 2003 as one of Honda's factory riders having just secured the AMA Superbikes crown. A lot was expected of the young American, but his adaptation to Grand Prix racing and the European circuits took longer than many predicted.

His GP debut saw him take a respectable seventh place finish in Japan having started just one place off the back of the grid. However, the Kentucky starlet endured an inconsistent year in which he only managed two podiums, at Motegi and Phillip Island.

2004 also proved a difficult campaign for Hayden who did not hit the heights that many thought America's most talented racing prospect would achieve. Again he managed only two podiums, in Brazil and Germany, and could not find the consistency needed to become a regular challenger.

Indeed, it was not until 2005 that he began to fulfil his obvious potential and become one of the stars of the MotoGP paddock. Although he did not make the best of starts to the season, he improved steadily race by race. The turning point proved to be his return to America when the World Championship headed back to Laguna Seca for a memorable American GP. Hayden took a dominant victory in front of his home fans and that seemed to give him the spur to maintain that kind of form for the rest of the campaign. In the remaining nine rounds of season he made it on to the podium on a further five occasions and managed two pole positions, at Sachsenring and Phillip Island. He ended the year in third place in the championship after a thrilling battle with Italian star Marco Melandri.

In 2006 he will undoubtedly spearhead Honda's challenge as the Japanese factory look to try and reclaim the world title back from rivals Yamaha.

MotoGP, 2005

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