Un­der the Chequered Flag

Old Bike Australasia - - BUZZ BOX -

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.

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