Early career [ edit ]
As a youth, racing twice his age CMRA. Hayden would often start the race from the back of the starting grid while a family or crew member held his bike upright because he could not touch the ground. Later, at age 17, he was racing factory Honda RC45 superbikes while still in high school.
In 1999, he won the AMA Supersport championship on board a privateer Honda. In 2001, his first full season as an AMA superbike racer, he came within 40 points of winning the championship, finishing behind only champion Mat Mladin and runner-up Eric Bostrom. The 2002 season, however, would see Hayden answering the bell: he won the Daytona 200 on a Honda Superbike en route to becoming the youngest ever AMA Superbike Champion, defeating reigning treble champion Mat Mladin. among others.
He also entered the World Superbike round at Laguna Seca. making a solid 4th in the first race before colliding with Noriyuki Haga in race two.
Hayden is one of a long line of American road racers to come from the American dirt-track scene. In 1999, Hayden won his first Grand National Championship race (Hagerstown Half Mile) and took Rookie of the Year honors. He was also declared the AMA’s athlete of the Year. In 2000, Nicky Hayden won the Springfield Short Track.
In 2002, despite racing in just a handful of dirt-track events, Hayden was able to win four races: Springfield Short Track (twice), Springfield TT, and Peoria TT. At the Springfield TT race, the three Hayden brothers took the first three places (Nicky 1st, Tommy 2nd, and Roger Lee 3rd). [ 1 ] The win at the 2002 Peoria TT came after beating thirteen-time Peoria winner, Chris Carr. despite starting from the penalty line.
Hayden only lacks a win at a mile track to join Dick Mann, Kenny Roberts Sr. Bubba Shobert, and Doug Chandler in the prestigious Grand Slam Club.
MotoGP career [ edit ]
Honda (2003–2008) [ edit ]
Immediately after winning his AMA Superbike championship, Hayden was tapped to join not only Honda’s MotoGP racing efforts, but what was arguably the premier team in MotoGP racing: Repsol Honda. Hayden also became teammate to the defending series champion Valentino Rossi. Hayden was seemingly unfazed, and in his first year of MotoGP racing (2003), he finished fifth in the championship points standings while riding Honda’s RC211V. an achievement that won him the Rookie -of-the-Year award.
In 2005. Hayden finished third in the MotoGP championship points standings behind Marco Melandri and series winner Valentino Rossi. In 2004, however, Hayden had a difficult year and was widely critiqued, luckily he answered critics with his first win in 2005.
Nicky Hayden later commented on the difficulty of having to test parts for the 2007 season whilst simultaneously battling for the 2006 Championship.
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