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Common Tread

Nicky Hayden talks about his injured wrist, his underpowered Honda and why he stayed in MotoGP

Jul 09, 2014

I don't make any secret of the fact that I'm a Nicky Hayden fan, as much for his positive attitude and his work ethic as for his riding skill.

It's easy for his critics to dismiss Hayden's one world title in 2006. They say he got "lucky" and won a world championship, despite winning just two races all season, because Valentino Rossi crashed in the last race at Valencia. Of course the equally true flip side of that is that he won the world championship despite the bad luck of being taken out of the previous race in Estoril by his own teammate. Either way, the more important truth is that nobody ever won a world title on luck alone, or won one without some luck. And the second notable truth is that in the midst of a string of years in which Rossi caused his closest competitors to crack under pressure (remember the "Gibernau will never win again" curse?), Hayden pushed Rossi into a mistake.

In any case, 2006 is long gone, and in the parts of his mind he doesn't let the camera see, this year must be among the most disappointing for Hayden. After five years wasted with Ducati, he hoped returning to the seat of a Honda would reignite his career, but instead he found that the Honda RCV1000R doesn't make enough power to compete with the factory bikes. On top of that, his right wrist swells up like a gourd every race weekend, causing him pain he must ride through.

This interview is worth watching because the interviewer goes beyond the usual superficial fodder and asks the right questions. Hayden talks about his disappointment with the Honda, managing to be candid about its shortcomings without slamming the company with which he had so much success both in AMA Superbike and MotoGP. His least surprising statement: "I miss the old days with less electronics."

The interviewer also asks the question I most wanted to ask him after he was dumped by Ducati and decided to stay in MotoGP instead of taking offers to go to World Superbike, where he might have become the first rider to win both MotoGP and WSBK world championships. The question, paraphrased: Wouldn't it be better to be racing for a championship in World Superbike than to be fighting for 10th place in MotoGP?

Check out the video to see what he says.