Nicky Hayden is now history in the history of GP. After 13 seasons, 216 GPs and an FIM MotoGP World Championship diploma hanging on his house walls, the American rider will switch from MotoGP to World Superbike.
When a 21-year-old Hayden entered the MotoGP series in 2003, he arrived with the label of being the most talented American rider of the last decade. Two AMA championships as an American Honda rider opened up Team Repsol Honda’s doors, then easily the most powerful team in the MotoGP paddock. And he soon discovered that it was basically out of the frying pan and into the fire at his first race.
“That step was harder than I thought that gonna be”, remembered Hayden when asked about his feelings at his very first GP in Suzuka, Japan. “New bikes, new tires, new culture, but…man, the competition! You expect to be near the front and you get impressed by how fast the guys down the grid are; and that was a big shock.”
Nicky finished his first ever MotoGP race seventh, almost 30 seconds behind the winner, being the last of the Hondas to cross the checkered flag. It was a result he was not able to improve until eight races later, when, in Germany, he crossed the finish line in fifth. Step by step, Hayden got the rhythm of the championship, ending the season with two podium finishes and showing that he deserved the privilege of having been chosen as one of the HRC team riders.
Although many in World Superbike, including many competitors, have high expectations for Hayden in his maiden year in the WSBK series, the Kentucky native knows that a MotoGP career …read more