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Nicky Hayden - A life dedicated to racing

Nicky Hayden - A life dedicated to racing

This weekend the 2006 MotoGP™ Champion will start his 200th Grand Prix in front of his home fans in Austin.

Just like the American heroes from the 80’s, Nicky Hayden (Born 30 July 1981) grew up riding dirt track before heading to MotoGP™ in 2003, after becoming the youngest ever AMA Superbike Champion the season before.

Hayden’s ascent to the World Championship was designed to keep alive the legend of American racing heroes who had dominated the series between 1978-1993. In his very first season, “The Kentucky Kid” was partnered with Valentino Rossi in the factory Honda Team, as the Italian went on to claim his last title for the Japanese Manufacturer before moving to Yamaha.

These first two years with Honda served as a learning experience for the young American, although he still managed to claim two podiums during each season, and qualified on the front row three times.

It was during the 2005 season that the American would serve notice of his potential, when the return of the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca meant that he could use his greater knowledge of the track to achieve an epic first win of his MotoGP™ career in front of his home crowd.

His consistency, plus another 3 podiums throughout the season, meant that Hayden finished 2005 in 3rd overall and allowed him to approach the 2006 season full of confidence.

Having never left the podium in the first half of the season, the American recorded his first win of 2006 in the Netherlands after an epic battle with compatriot Colin Edwards. He was once again on the podium in Germany, and would take his second victory of the season when he returned back home for the Laguna Seca Grand Prix

From there on in, the Championship battle became a two-horse race between Hayden and Valentino Rossi, the man who had claimed every MotoGP™ title since 2001. During the last Grand Prix of the season, Hayden used all of his genius to secure a podium and claim the 2006 MotoGP™ World Championship by just 5 points, as Rossi crashed out.

As defending Champion, the 2007 season would prove difficult for Hayden with the arrival of the new MotoGP™ 800cc era. This meant that more electronics were used on the bikes to control their behaviour, and therefore the dirt-tracking skills he had been able to take advantage of earlier in his career were no longer necessary. These were the start of some difficult times for the American, and he ended up moving from Honda to the official Ducati Factory team in 2009, thus ending his ten-year relationship with the Japanese manufacturer.

Hayden would go onto score more podiums with Ducati, although he would not replicate the success he had achieved for Honda, and once again teamed up with Valentino Rossi for the 2011 & 2012 seasons.

In 2013 he left Ducati to re-establish his relationship Honda, but this time in the new Open class. It would prove to be a difficult season, after a wrist injury that required surgery forced him to miss a number of races.

In 2015 Hayden is a Honda rider once again for the Aspar MotoGP Team, although he is now on the new RC213V-RS bike. Some would say that over the years the “Nicest guy in the paddock” maybe hasn’t gone on to achieve the success he deserves. True race fans though, will always remember the legendary season in which he became the first rider to beat the invincible Valentino Rossi to the MotoGP™ title.


MotoGP, 2015, RED BULL GRAND PRIX OF THE AMERICAS, Nicky Hayden, Aspar MotoGP Team

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