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Nicky Hayden, former MotoGP champion, passes away after cycling accident

23 May, 2017

News broke last week that 35-year-old Honda rider and former MotoGP champion, Nicky “The Kentucky Kid” Hayden, was involved in an incident with a car while while cycling in Rimini, Italy, following the Imola World Superbike round. 

While we initially held off reporting the incident in the hopes that Hayden would pull through, sadly, news has reached us that he passed away overnight.

Younger brother Tommy Hayden said in a statement, “On behalf of the whole Hayden family and Nicky’s fiancée Jackie I would like to thank everyone for their messages of support … although this is obviously a sad time, we would like everyone to remember Nicky at his happiest – riding a motorcycle. He dreamed as a kid of being a pro rider and not only achieved that but also managed to reach the pinnacle of his chosen sport in becoming World Champion. We are all so proud of that.”

Throughout his 13 year career, Hayden made a total of 217 MotoGP starts and most notably beat out Valentino Rossi to claim the 2006 world championship title in his fourth of six seasons with the Repsol Honda team. 

In a controversial decision, he would leave Honda for a switch to the Ducati Marlboro Team to ride alongside Casey Stoner for the 2009 MotoGP season. Hayden would return to riding Honda in 2014 with the Aspar Racing Team where he would spend his final two full-time seasons campaigning the World Superbike Championship.

The former champion returned to MotoGP for spot starts to replace the injured Honda rider Jack Miller (Marc VDS Honda) at Aragon, finishing 15th; and factory Honda rider Dani Pedrosa at Phillip Island, which also marked his first appearance on a Repsol Honda since 2008 — he would only finish 17th after colliding with Jack Miller late in the race.

Hayden leaves behind fiancee Jackie, mother Rose, father Earl, and younger brother Tommy.

Rest well, champ.

Becoming fond of Fords part two – happy times with Escorts

In part one of this Ford-flavoured trip down memory lane I recalled a sad and instructive episode when I learned my shortcomings as a car tuner, something that tainted my appreciation of Mk2 Ford Escort vans in particular. Prior to that I had a couple of other Ford entanglements of slightly more redeeming merit. There were two Mk1 Escorts I had got my hands on: a 1972 1300 XL belonging to my father and a later, end-of-line, English-assembled 1974 1100, which my partner and I bought from Panmure Motors Ford in Auckland in 1980. Both those cars were the high water mark of my relationship with the Ford Motor Co. I liked the Mk1 Escorts. They were nice, nippy, small cars, particularly the 1300, which handled really well, and had a very precise gearbox for the time.
Images of Jim Richards in the Carney Racing Williment-built Twin Cam Escort and Paul Fahey in the Alan Mann–built Escort FVA often loomed in my imagination when I was driving these Mk1 Escorts — not that I was under any illusion of comparable driving skills, but they had to be having just as much fun as I was steering the basic versions of these projectiles.

Fear and loathing the blue oval – part one

The slogan went something like ‘There’s a Ford in your future’. ‘Bugger off!’ were always the words that sprung to my mind. Ford and I have never really got on in the manner of many of my friends, so I’d say my relationship to the brand was distant. The accelerating blur of passing time has helpfully blanketed memories of a few Ford encounters which I probably wanted to forget but I have to admit, now I look at them, they are re-appearing through the mists of time. What comes to mind more readily, to quote some uncharitable wit, is that the letters Ford could stand for ‘fix or repair daily’. Still, I have to ’fess up, there were several Fords in my past.