2006 MotoGP world champion, Nicky Hayden is a likeable man. He’s an old school racer who can, on a good day, hang with the best in the world, doesn’t believe in talking trash and generally steers clear of controversy. Nicky won the AMA Superbike Championship in 2002, when he was just 21 years old – making him the youngest ever champ in that US series. In a MotoGP career that now spans a decade, the Kentucky Kid has only taken 3 race wins (1 in 2005, 2 in 2006, both with the 990cc Honda RC211V), but does also have 28 podium finishes, 5 pole positions and 7 fastest laps to his name. We don’t think he’s going to win any more championships, but the American remains one of the most affable men in racing.
In a recent interview that he gave to Cycle World magazine, Nicky Hayden had some interesting things to say. Here are some excerpts from what the Kentucky Kid said:
On Ducati’s last two years in MotoGP
Ducati tried everything. They’ve rolled out new bikes, stuff that was unheard of last year. If anything, we’ve tried too many new parts. With the aluminium chassis, marketing went out the window. Once Rossi came to Ducati, it was ‘get results – do whatever it takes.’ Everybody’s done as much as they could. We just haven’t done enough.
On Valentino Rossi’s time with Ducati
Valentino Rossi gave a lot of effort. It was impressive to see how he stayed motivated. Valentino didn’t take the easy way out going back to Yamaha; he’s got a lot of pressure on him. It’s not going to be easy. Jorge Lorenzo hasn’t gotten any slower since the last time they were teammates, but Valentino doesn’t seem scared of the challenge. I’m not into making predictions [but] I’ve been really competitive with Valentino for the past two years, so I’m anxious to see how he does.
On 800s vs 1000s in MotoGP
Compared to the 800, the 1000 is a nicer engine, especially off the bottom. When we went to 800s, they didn’t have enough power to spin the tyre. Casey was still running the ‘screamer’ and could still do it. Now, we’re going back to where guys are steering with the rear to get the bike to turn.
I would not ride a CRT. I’m not convinced CRTs are the future. They’re breaking, they’re slow. The best you’re going to do is 12th and hope some guys crash. No way.
On MotoGP vs picking watermelons
I love MotoGP and racing motorcycles at the highest level. I come from Kentucky, where all my cousins are picking watermelons 10 hours a day. I don’t have a hard job – 18 races, talk to a few people, sign a couple of autographs, fly first class to some pretty nice country, get picked up in a limo. There are worse options and I’ve done worse. I’m no hard-luck story, but I’ve worked in the fields. I’m not going to complain.
This interview was done by Matthew Miles and appeared in the February 2013 issue of Cycle World magazine