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Nicky Hayden profile

By Dan Moakes
November 18 2006

Nicky Hayden
nationality · United States
born · 30 July 1981
world superbike début · 2002
grand prix début · 2003

Nicky Hayden, also known as ‘the Kentucky Kid’, is from a family of motorcycle racers. His two brothers are top AMA competitors, but his parents and one sister also have backgrounds in the sport. Nicky has gone all the way from success on dirt tracks to road racing Superbikes and finally to the Moto Grand Prix title - beating none other than Valentino Rossi - and is likely to be a feature on the scene for many years to come, as he is still only 25 years old

Minibike dirt track racing début; multiple dirt track titles over the next six years in various small capacity classes

Minibike road racing début; ‘senior’ road racing début, with Honda RS125 GP bike; would continue racing on dirt and roads with 250cc, 125cc and small capacity bikes

Horizon dirt track award winner, with Harley-Davidson; AMA National road racing début, with Kawasaki

4th in AMA Supersport 750, with Suzuki; 4th in AMA Supersport 600, with Suzuki - won Willow Springs

AMA Supersport 600 Champion, with Honda CBR600 F4 - five wins; 2nd in AMA Formula Xtreme, with Honda - seven wins; 22nd in AMA Superbike, with Honda - 3rd at Pikes Peak; AMA Grand National Dirt Track Rookie of the Year; AMA/Speedvision Pro Athlete of the Year

2nd in AMA Superbike, with number 69 Honda RC51 - three wins, three seconds

3rd in AMA Superbike, with number 69 Honda RC51 - four wins

2002 American Honda, number 69 Honda
AMA Superbike Champion, with the Honda RC51 and nine race wins; also a World Superbike wildcard at Laguna Seca - fourth in race one

2003 Repsol Honda, number 69 Honda
Nicky moved straight to MotoGP with Honda’s factory team, as partner to title holder Valentino Rossi. He achieved ‘rookie of the year’ status with an ever-improving run of results on the RC211V, and had made it onto the front row of the grid by the last event of the year. Race results started with a couple of sevenths, and mid-season saw him begin a run of top six finishes, with third in Japan and Australia. 130 points placed him fifth overall

Nicky Hayden 2004 - photo by Elliot L Doering
photo © Elliot L Doering

2004 Repsol Honda Team, number 69 Honda
There was another experienced team-mate for Hayden in 2004, in the shape of Alex Barros. For a works rider, the season did not really represent a step forward for Nicky, even if he was in the top five many times. Third place results came this time in Brazil and Germany, but there were crashes and six no-scores, which meant 117 points and a drop back to seventh equal. His best qualifying to date came with second in Italy

2005 Repsol Honda Team, number 69 Honda
2005 was a proper breakthrough year for Nicky, and this time he out-performed his third Repsol team-mate, 13-time race winner Max Biaggi. Hayden only missed top six qualification twice, and was on pole position three times. Biaggi had the edge in the first five races, but then the younger man eased into the top five twice before heading to his first GP on home soil. Laguna Seca returned to the calendar for the first time since 1994, and was the scene of Nicky’s best form as he won convincingly. This launched him into a run that included another five podiums, and 206 points meant third overall. There were also two fastest laps

2006 Repsol Honda Team, number 69 Honda
Yet another new partner came in the form of Dani Pedrosa, graduating from a successful 250cc career with two consecutive titles. Nicky put together a consistent run of top results - only twice outside the top three in the first eleven races, and this built him a good lead as Yamaha’s Rossi had mixed fortunes. The Assen race saw a thriller, with Hayden getting the better of Colin Edwards in a last lap duel, and his first race win in Europe. Another followed at Laguna, after which he had 34 points over Pedrosa, with Rossi fourth. The Italian came back strongly, and a clash of the Repsol riders in Portugal seemed to have cost Hayden the title. But Rossi did not perform in Valencia, and the crown was Nicky’s by five points. He scored a total of 252, as well as taking one more pole position

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