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MotoGP™ Legend Nicky Hayden sadly passed away on Monday, after the American was involved in a collision with a car whilst cycling on the Riviera di Rimini last week. A true Champion on and off track, Hayden will be deeply missed.
#RideOnKentuckyKid: Remembering Nicky Hayden
MotoGP™ Legend, 2006 World Champion, WorldSBK race winner, fiancé, uncle, brother, son, friend or simply the “Kentucky Kid” who rose from American dirt track to the absolute pinnacle of his sport, Hayden was known for many things to many people, and put his name to an astounding number of achievements both within racing and beyond its limits – key amongst which was his moniker as ‘the nicest man in Grand Prix racing’. A true competitor with an incredible commitment to his sport, and a true family man dedicated to the people around him.
First riding on the dirt in his native USA, Hayden then continued his career on tarmac and was crowned AMA Supersport Champion in 1999. Next came the AMA Superbike crown in 2002 – becoming the youngest rider to achieve the feat – before a move to the MotoGP™ World Championship for 2003. He took two podiums that year, at Motegi and Phillip Island, as a rookie. More podiums followed in 2004 before Hayden took his first pole and Grand Prix victory at Laguna Seca in 2005. The following year, the “Kentucky Kid” became the MotoGP™ World Champion as he beat Valentino Rossi to the premier class crown, securing the title in the last round of the year in Valencia.
He moved to Ducati in 2009 and, later, the Aspar team, before racing his last full season in MotoGP™ in 2015. He was then inducted into the MotoGP™ World Championship Hall of Fame at the season finale in Valencia.
The next challenge for the ‘Kentucky Kid’ was WorldSBK, where Hayden took a number of podiums and his first win in the class in his rookie year, besting difficult conditions at Sepang to join another exclusive club as he became a winner in both MotoGP™ and WorldSBK. The American also became the first MotoGP™ Legend to return to Grand Prix racing in 2016, as a replacement rider at Aragon and Phillip Island.
Hayden raced his last laps for Red Bull Honda World Superbike team at Imola, in Italy, on May 14th. The American’s dedication to competition was as strong as ever in his sophomore year in World Superbike, where he was once again proving his incredible work ethic, passion and dedication to two-wheeled motorsport.
Hayden will be deeply missed by the paddocks he has graced throughout an incredible career, his millions of fans around the world, and by all those closest to him. We wish to pass on our sincerest condolences to his family, friends, team and colleagues as we sadly bid farewell to the “Kentucky Kid” far too soon – a true legend of the sport, and to all those who knew him.
Remember and pay tribute to Hayden with the hashtag #RideOnKentuckyKid.