The 2006 MotoGP world champ believes he might still get back on top someday...
Sometimes, we don’t really know what to make of Nicky ‘The Kentucky Kid’ Hayden. Looking at his performances in the last two years, it’s hard to believe that the American actually beat Valentino Rossi and won the MotoGP world championship in 2006. Since that high point of his life and career, things have a gone downhill for Nicky – he was more or less pushed out of Honda at the end of the 2008 season, and he’s been struggling to get results at Ducati this year.
Though he’s currently not as successful at winning races as, say, Casey Stoner or Jorge Lorenzo, we like Nicky Hayden a lot more than either of those two riders. Indeed, unlike many other MotoGP riders, Hayden doesn’t talk trash, doesn’t play games, isn’t arrogant and doesn’t walk around with a bad attitude. And for us, that means he’s one of the more likeable riders in MotoGP right now.
Ultimate Motorcycling recently caught up with Nicky for a chat, and here are some excerpts from what Nicky had to say:
On his workout regimen, which prepares him to ride the Ducati GP9
‘Cardio for sure. The Ducati is very intense to ride and you can never rest on it. Your focus on this bike must be 100% the whole time or it will bite you! It has a lot of lights and switches you must focus on, so it can be as hard mentally as physically sometimes.
On being team mates with Casey Stoner
‘Yeah, we get on well. We don't hang out a lot on personal time but if we are at an event or something together, we chat a lot about different things and have a few good laughs. We also like to team up on Livio (Ducati Race Director) and give as much grief as possible!’
On electronics in MotoGP
‘They should be left to the video games and let the riders be the ones who make the difference on the track. They [the electronics] suck and there are too many.’
On his life in the US vs Europe
‘I do enjoy my time in the States, where MotoGP is a lot less popular so it’s a little more relaxed when you are just trying to chill, but then sometimes in Europe you can milk it a bit and get some VIP treatment!’
On what he would be doing if he wasn’t racing motorcycles
‘I’m really not sure what I would do if I wasn't racing. I feel like this is what I was meant to do. It is the one thing I love to do and got some talent for. I never had a plan B. I went all in to be a racer and luckily it's paid off.’
Incidentally, Crash.net also did an interview with Nicky recently. Here are some excerpts:
On how he rides the Ducati
‘You've got to be smooth with it. That myth [about pinning the throttle] is wrong! I don't know where it comes from! This bike; it's a partner. You've got to work with it and get the most out of it and be really smooth with the throttle. It's not just twist the grip man and hang on. That won't work, or not for long anyway.’
On how he and Casey Stoner are different
‘Well, the results have been one of the biggest differences! It's tough to say one element. Sure, he gets up to speed immediately. And his style – he somehow gets heat into the tyres so quick. Early in the year I struggled a lot, getting heat into the tyres, and that is one area where he is immediately on the pace.’
‘He gets off the corners a lot better than me and carries that speed all the way down the straightaway and has a lot better top speed than I have. That's one thing that's kinda been a big question mark for me and the team, why he is always so much faster at the end of the straightaways.’
On whether he thinks Ducati will keep him for another year
‘I'm not sure. I actually have a two year deal with Ducati, but it is their option. They haven't renewed it yet, so we'll see. I know there are a lot of games going on in the paddock. I signed on for two years and I feel like we can do something here. I don't want to give up now that we've come this far and start again. We'll see if they renew.’
On whether he might consider moving to World Superbikes
‘My goal right now is MotoGP and I love it here. Sure it's hard and to think I'm gonna get back to winning the championship – I know how tough that's gonna be – but I've done it before and, as a rider, you always want to go against the best. World Superbike has got some great racing and strong talent, but MotoGP is still where it's at.’
For the full interviews, visit Ultimate Motorcycling and Crash.net