Nicky Hayden Profile
Nicky Hayden grew up in the country in Owensboro, Kentucky, where his father built dirt tracks for the children to start practicing to ride as soon as they were able to walk.
Nicky’s family were already passionate motorcyclists, and heavily involved in the world of motor sport, long before the future MotoGP rider was born. Both his father, Thomas Earl, and his mother, Rose Marie Kamuff, had raced dirt track and Earl achieved some good results in mid-level competitions while Rose dominated the so-called women’s “Powder Puff” class for a good five seasons.
The five children, in age order Tommy, Jennifer, Nicky, Roger and Kathleen all learned to ride almost before they could walk and, although the girls later chose to pursue different careers, the three boys continued to ride, all becoming successful professional riders. Tommy and Roger Lee currently race in the AMA Superbike Championship while Nicky, who travelled to Europe in 2003 to compete in MotoGP for the first time, will form part of the Ducati Marlboro Team in 2009 alongside Casey Stoner.
Hayden began his sporting career with dirt track racing, beginning at four years old at the Paducah International Raceway. From that moment on, he competed regularly in the category and spent nearly every weekend travelling to tracks all over the American Midwest with his family.
Although over time his passion transferred itself more towards road racing, Nicky and his brothers have always remained interested in dirt track, a world in which they all obtained great results. A highlight was the historic Springfield TT in 2002, where having all qualified on the front row, all three brothers stepped up to the podium! Nicky, Tommy and Roger Lee finished the race in that order, something that had never happened before in a professional AMA Dirt Track race. At that time Nicky was already one of the most talented riders in the AMA Superbike championship and was in contention for the title, a title that he won just a few months later.
Nicky began to ride mini-bikes at eleven years old, moving gradually from dirt to asphalt. He became a professional rider at sixteen, racing for Honda America and the following year, in 1998, he completed his first full racing season, finishing fourth overall in both the AMA 750 Supersport and 600 Supersport categories. In 1999, at eighteen years of age, he became the youngest ever AMA 600 Supersport Champion, fighting for the title against his brother Tommy. In the same year he also participated in 12 of the 18 Grand National dirt track rounds, taking the Rookie of the Year title in that series. In 2000, still with Honda, he progressed to the AMA Superbike category to finish second overall, just five points behind Mat Mladin. In 2001 he closed the season in third place while in 2002, as well as winning the prestigious Daytona 2000 race, he became the youngest ever AMA Superbike Champion, at 21 years and two weeks old.
2003 signalled a dramatic change of direction for Hayden. Pursued by both Honda and Yamaha for a ride in MotoGP, the young American chose to stay with the House of the golden wing and became part of the factory team alongside World Champion Valentino Rossi. Catapulted into a completely new environment, so different to what he was used to, Hayden was immediately respected for his open nature and ready smile, as well as for his aggressive and spectacular racing style. In his debut year he achieved two podium finishes, at the Australian and Motegi GP races, and concluded the season in fifth position as Rookie of the Year.
2004 was a more difficult year for Hayden with results that see-sawed, and the season was complicated further when he fractured his collarbone during a Supermotard test. He finished the year in eighth place despite podiums at Rio and Sachsenring.
The 2005 season was much more positive. A crash in the first race was followed by a series of ever better results which culminated in his first MotoGP win at his home race of Laguna Seca. A further five podiums, in Germany, Qatar, Australia, Turkey and Valencia, saw Nicky close the season in third position.
2006 brought the first true moment of glory. He started the season strongly, with seven podiums in the first eight races, including the win at Assen, which took him straight to the top of the riders classification. This lead was strengthened by a second win at Laguna Seca, which left him 34 points ahead of Daniel Pedrosa and 51 ahead of Valentino Rossi. However, after the summer break, Hayden’s fortunes changed and he slowly lost ground, before a collision with his team-mate caused a fall at the Estoril GP. The unfortunate episode meant that Valentino Rossi had an eight point lead going into the last round of the season but nevertheless Hayden arrived in Valencia ready to play all his cards. On 29th October 2006, having reached the third step of the podium after Rossi’s fall in the closing stages of the race, the Kentucky Kid became World Champion.
In 2007 the GP category moved from 990cc to 800cc machines and Hayden was not immediately comfortable with the new bike. Despite great efforts to develop the RC212V, he was never able to truly fight to defend his title. The work completed during the year allowed him to reach the podium in Germany, Holland and the Czech Republic but he was only able to finish the season in eighth position.
2008 was another year of mixed fortunes for Hayden, especially at the start of the season when, despite several top five finishes, he failed to reach the podium. An injury to his foot, caused while he participated in a Supermoto race at the X-Games in Los Angeles, complicated things and forced him to miss the Czech Republic and San Marino GP races after the summer break. However, always ready to fight harder when the going gets tough, the American rider was back on form at the second of his home rounds, at Indianapolis, where in difficult meteorological conditions and in less than perfect health, he finished second behind Valentino Rossi. Another podium at Phillip Island and a series of strong results towards the end of the season allowed him to climb the leaders board to finish the year in sixth position.
In 2009 Nicky Hayden joins Ducati alongside Casey Stoner, sharing with him a common language, a similar childhood on the dirt tracks and the glory of a MotoGP World Championship title. The first race, at nighttime in Qatar, is postponed for 24-hours due to torrential rain and Hayden, who fell in qualifying, finishes 12th. It is the start of a year of improvement for Hayden who, with determination and hard graft, continues to pick up pace before reaching the podium at Indianapolis and closing the season positively. In the final test session of the year at Valencia he is consistently one of the fastest five riders on track and will be back on board with Casey Stoner to face the 2010 championship with renewed enthusiasm and confidence.
Age: 28 (Born July 30th 1981 in Owensboro, Kentucky, USA)
Lives: Owensboro, Kentucky
Marital status: not married
Height: 173 cm
Weight: 68 kg
Bike: Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici GP10
Racing Number: 69
GP starts: 116 (116xMotoGP)
First GP: Japan GP, 2003 (MotoGP)
Number of victories: 3 (3xMotoGP)
First GP victory: USA GP, 2005 (MotoGP)
Pole position: 5 (5xMotoGP)
First Pole: USA GP, 2005 (MotoGP)
World Titles: 1 (MotoGP, 2006)
2010: Ducati Marlboro Team Rider – MotoGP World Championship
Bike: Ducati Desmosedici GP10
2009 13th in the MotoGP World Championship (Ducati Desmosedici GP9)
2008 6th in the MotoGP World Championship (Honda)
2007 8th in the MotoGP World Championship (Honda)
2006 MotoGP World Champion (Honda)
2005 3rd in the MotoGP World Championship (Honda)
2004 8th in the MotoGP World Championship (Honda)
2003 5th in the MotoGP World Championship (Honda)
2002 AMA Superbike Champion (Honda)
Daytona 200 Winner (Honda)
2001 3rd in the AMA Superbike Championship (Honda)
2000 2nd in the AMA Superbike Championship (Honda)
4th in the AMA 600 Supersport Championship (Honda)
1999 AMA 600 Supersport Champion (Honda)
2nd in the AMA Formula Xtreme Championship (Honda)
1998 4th in the AMA 750 Supersport Championship (Honda)
4th in the AMA 600 Supersport Championship (Honda)
1997 Horizon Dirt Track Award Winner (Honda)
1992 First minibike race on asphalt
1985 First dirt track minibike race