Under the Chequered Flag
Hayden received severe injuries while training on his bicycle at the Adriatic seaside town of Rimini on May 17th and succumbed five days later without regaining consciousness. In the outpouring of sympathy that has followed, one theme is common – that Nicky never had a bad word to say about anyone, and was always more comfortable when talking to others than talking about himself. A former top AMA dirt track rider, Hayden switched to road racing where he claimed both AMA Supersport and Superbike titles. By 2003 he was in MotoGP as team mate to Valentino Rossi in the works Repsol Honda squad, and three years later snatched the top crown after a season-long battle with Rossi that went down to the final race. Although he only won three races in his GP career, Hayden was always a force, and always highly respected. As his MotoGP career came to an end, he switched to World Superbikes, riding Hondas for the Dutch Ten Kate team. He loved racing in Australia and rated Phillip Island as one of his favourite circuits, where he had legions of fans thanks to his open and relaxed nature. Nicky Hayden was 35 and was engaged to actress Jackie Marin.
It’s ironic that in a pastime as inherently dangerous as motor sport, competitors can lose their lives to misadventure away from the track – Mike Hailwood’s tragic passing is a classic example. So too is the recent loss of 2006 MotoGP World Champion NICKY HAYDEN – the “Kentucky Kid” who was one of the sport’s genuine nice guys.