The world of mo­tor­cy­cling – and sport – re­flects on the pass­ing of an amaz­ing racer and an even more amaz­ing per­son

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - By Si­mon Pat­ter­son MO­TOGP RE­PORTER

Since the news last week of his tragic death in a cy­cling ac­ci­dent in Italy, tributes have flooded in for Nicky Hay­den both from the racing fra­ter­nity and from the wider world. One of the most pop­u­lar char­ac­ters ever to race a mo­tor­bike, there’s has been a huge out­pour­ing of emo­tion with heart­felt mes­sages of con­do­lence for his fam­ily as well as a lot of friends re­mem­ber­ing the good times with the Ken­tucky Kid.

With that in mind, MCN has spo­ken to some of those clos­est to Nicky and gath­ered to­gether their tributes and mem­o­ries of the 2006 Mo­togp world cham­pion.

Roger Hay­den Nicky’s brother and cur­rent Mo­toamer­ica front-run­ner

Nicky my brother, our story wasn’t sup­posed to end like this. You were world champ for a rea­son. I’ve never met some­one with the de­sire for racing bikes like you. I re­mem­ber grow­ing up we shared a room and you study­ing notes you took from the pre­vi­ous race and we were 12-13 years old. I’ll never for­get the Mon­day morn­ing af­ter you won the world cham­pi­onship, you woke me up to go run­ning. That’s what sep­a­rated you from the rest and made you a leg­end. I could go on and on.


You made ev­ery­one here bet­ter, be­cause when you weren’t here, we were rid­ing or cy­cling to close the gap for when we rode with you again. You pushed me to my best, but more im­por­tantly I’ll re­mem­ber what kind of brother you were. You were a leg­end of a racer and a brother. You were there for me no mat­ter what was go­ing on in life. You wanted to help, I’m glad you were able to see me at my best these past cou­ple of years. Not just on the bike, but mainly off it.

I can sit here and ask ‘why’ all day, but in­stead I want to be thank­ful for hav­ing a brother like you for 33 years. Don’t worry - I have the nieces han­dled. No boyfriends un­til they’re in col­lege and I’ll teach the neph­ews what it takes to be a cham­pion in what­ever they de­cide. Till we ride again I love you.

Mark Lloyd Red Bull KTM me­chanic and one of Nicky’s world cham­pi­onship­win­ning crew

It’s a bit of a shock, re­ally. I still can’t be­lieve it. When I think of Nicky I al­ways think of his work ethic and just how gen­er­ous he was. The year he won the cham­pi­onship, he won the BMW qual­i­fier’s award too, and a Z4 con­vert­ible – and we all laughed and joked that it would end up on his dad Earl’s used car lot back in Ken­tucky.

At Christ­mas­time, I got a pack­age in the post and it was the end of sea­son re­view book with a re­ally nice let­ter by Nicky – and a big cheque. He sold the car and split the money be­tween the me­chan­ics in the team. It blew me away, and I dug the book and the let­ter out this week and it brought tears to my eyes.

No-one re­alised just how hard that year was for us. The bike was brand new and we had so many prob­lems, es­pe­cially with the clutch. He was more in­jured than peo­ple re­alised go­ing into the last round too, af­ter get­ting knocked off in Por­tu­gal, and we knew it was go­ing to take some­thing spe­cial to win the ti­tle. But a bad clutch wasn’t go­ing to wreck what he’s worked for all his life!

Tommy Hay­den Nicky’s brother and former AMA Su­per­bike racer

Al­though this is ob­vi­ously a sad time, we would like ev­ery­one to re­mem­ber Nicky at his hap­pi­est – rid­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle. He dreamed as a kid of be­ing a pro rider and not only achieved that but also man­aged to reach the pin­na­cle of his cho­sen sport by be­com­ing World Cham­pion. We are all so proud of that.

Apart from these ‘pub­lic’ memo-

ries, we will also have many great and happy mem­o­ries of Nicky at home in Ken­tucky, in the heart of the fam­ily. We will all miss him ter­ri­bly.

Casey Stoner Former world cham­pion and team-mate

He al­ways gave me a lot of time, even when I was in 125 and 250s and he was al­ready in the top class. He was al­ways happy to stop for a chat and that never changed through­out his ca­reer. As a team-mate he was fan­tas­tic, al­ways a lot of fun and he never stopped smil­ing, even when things were tough.

‘ The morn­ing af­ter you won the world ti­tle you woke me up to go run­ning’ ‘Nicky was a great racer and a won­der­ful per­son’ MARC MAR­QUEZ

‘He reached the pin­na­cle - we are all so proud of that’ TOMMY HAY­DEN, NICKY’S BROTHER

He’s some­one that we’re go­ing to miss, some­one that no-one has a bad word to say about, and some­one that al­ways put ev­ery­thing he had into his racing.

He was very close with his fam­ily too, and that showed the kind of guy he was. We al­ways had a lot of fun in the snow when the team did their launch at Vroom, and there’s a lot of good mem­o­ries from those days - we al­ways en­joyed each other’s com­pany. We’re all go­ing to miss him.

Marc Mar­quez Reign­ing world cham­pion and former team-mate

It’s very sad for all of Mo­togp and for the whole mo­tor­cy­cling fam­ily, be­cause of course Nicky was a great racer but he was also a won­der­ful per­son. He was re­ally pas­sion­ate about bikes. I have re­ally fond mem­o­ries with him when he was in the Rep­sol Honda team. One of the most spe­cial mem­o­ries is my first big event, when I started in the world cham­pi­onship in 2008 at 15. He was in Mo­togp and we went to an event to­gether and by the end of the night I was like his lit­tle brother. My English was re­ally poor, but he spoke a lit­tle Span­ish and it was a funny night. We had a great party last year in Phillip Is­land af­ter I won the cham­pi­onship and he wild-carded as my team-mate!

Jorge Lorenzo Former world cham­pion and ri­val

As a rider, Nicky was one of the fastest Amer­i­cans in the past few years, with a very spe­cial rid­ing style and a lot of slid­ing.

As a man, ev­ery­one in the pad­dock shared the same opin­ion of him as a re­ally nice guy who was al­ways happy and al­ways smil­ing. It’s a real pity for ev­ery­one, and we need to re­mem­ber him as the good guy and ex­cel­lent rider that he was.

We spent a lot of time to­gether on track, and I re­mem­ber fight­ing with him for one of my very first podi­ums in In­di­anapo­lis dur­ing my first year. We had some fun play­ing bas­ket­ball a few years ago at a me­dia event too – ev­ery­one has great mem­o­ries of their time with him.

Yoshishige No­mura HRC Pres­i­dent

Nicky has been such a close friend and mem­ber of the HRC fam­ily that it’s hard to be­lieve he is gone. To­gether we won two AMA ti­tles and the 2006 Mo­togp crown, and un­til his ac­ci­dent he was giv­ing 100% to bring success to the Red Bull Honda WSB team. Nicky was a great rider and cham­pion but he was an even bet­ter per­son. We al­ways had the ut­most re­spect for his racing spirit and for the com­mit­ment he showed.

‘Nicky was a great rider and cham­pion, but an even bet­ter per­son’

Fans, rac­ers and teams paid tribute to Nicky Hay­den at the Don­ing­ton WSB round at the week­end Nicky’s bike and hel­met at Don­ing­ton

The Red Bull Honda WSB team lead the minute’s si­lence

Fans showed their re­spect to Nicky Hay­den at Don­ing­ton

Ger­rit and Ron­ald Ten Kate pay tribute to Nicky Hay­den at Don­ing­ton WSB

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