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.