The tragic news broke this week that former MOTO GP legend Nicky Hayden had passed away after being hit by a car on an Italian road. The irony of ironies is that he was where he felt safe and on a bicycle. He has spent a career risking life and limb on the track only to come undone on a public road. This is what makes it hurt even more.
Nicky Hayden was a fan favourite thanks to his infectious smile and positive demeanour. He was a popular figure in the paddock and most riders will speak positively of their experiences of Hayden.
He is most known for winning the Moto GP in 2006, only 3 years into his Moto GP career. It was even more impressive when you think that Valentino Rossi had a stranglehold for the previous five years on the competition. All this was with Honda and he was a tremendous ambassador for the Japanese legend bike makers.
Unfortunately, a glamorous move to Ducati was supposed to kick him on but there was instead five years of disappointing results. His highest finish with the Italian giant was seventh. He returned to Honda for two more years before moving to World Superbikes.
Hayden’s family is motorcycle mad with his brothers Tommy and Roger both professional motorcycle racers too. His traditional number may seem to be a nod to naughty with 69 but it was the number his father used, and he was carrying on the legacy. His father joked that it was chosen because you would also be able to read it even when your upside down in the dirt.
Nicky Hayden was an American biker who showed the world that the United States could compete with the big world boys and his championship broke the Rossi domination. His personality endeared him to everyone on the circuit and he will be missed. We will miss the 220mpg burst of orange and black Repsol whizzing past our screens.