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Nicky is one of the best friends I have had in the paddock. We were teammates in his rookie year in 2003, when he was a young guy making his debut in his first European experience. That season ended with the World Championship for me and with his first visit to the podium, at Phillip Island. After a few years we fought for the title down to the last race in Valencia and, unfortunately for me, he won and became MotoGP™ World Champion. After the race we shook hands and hugged. Later we were again teammates during the difficult years at Ducati, when sometimes we would fight right down to the wire, maybe to get the last place in the top five. Nicky often came to the Ranch, where it was always spectacular to watch him and try to steal some of his secrets when we were battling, because he's one of the fastest flattrackers in the world and before moving onto asphalt he won some of the biggest American flat track races like the Peoria TT.
But the best memory I have of him is when he came to shake my hand after the unfortunate race in Valencia in 2015, on the lap of honour. For him it was a goodbye to MotoGP™, and I had just lost the World Championship. His look of support from inside his helmet is one of the few positive memories I have from that day. Forza Nicky, we're all with you.
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