The MotoGP circus is heading towards the finale and it is impossible to think of Valencia without remembering Nicky Hayden.
The American, who prematurely died in May 2017 following a cycling incident aged 35, was a great racer and an even better human being. It was impossible not to love him. He came from humble beginnings in Owensboro, Kentucky, to win the 2006 MotoGP world championship, defeating the reigning champion Valentino Rossi in an unforgettable final-race showdown, maintaining his humility and humanity. Hayden was so easy-going, polite, charming and absolutely unspoiled by the curse of the racer’s ego.
Sunday October 29th 2006, the day Hayden won the MotoGP world title was almost certainly a milestone of the four-stroke MotoGP era. It was an explosive cocktail of drama: the David-Goliath fight, the comeback of the underdog and the fairy tale that you can make anything happen, no matter how impossible it may seem.
All the odds were against the Honda rider who went into the season finale at Valencia 8 points down on Valentino Rossi. On the paper, there was no chance he could overtake the Nr46, starting from P5, while Rossi was on pole.
The rest is history. Nicky made the impossible happen with determination and a blind faith, but most of all, remaining pure in the defeat (victim of the incident with his team mate Dani Pedrosa the previous GP) and crystalline in the joy of the victory.
This year at Valencia, on Sunday November 17th, the MotoGP community and the fans of our sport will pay- once again- tribute to the Kentucky Kid.