Hayden Farewells MotoGP | Events
In a weekend somewhat short of any feel-good, one highlight was the induction of Nicky Hayden as the 22nd MotoGP Legend.
The award, said Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, was not only for his on-track achievements, but “for your friendship to everybody. I thank you for all you have done for us.”
Hayden admitted that “there’s people who have done more and won more than me…” but that it was fitting to get the award at Valencia, where he had watched his first grand prix in 2002 prior to his 2003 debut, and realised, “I was in the big league now”.
Joining the factory Honda team he was Rookie of the Year, and though in his career he won only three GPs, his signal achievement was defeating Rossi for the 2006 championship, also at Valencia.
With reference to the forthcoming 2014 showdown in two days, he said: “It just shows anything can happen on race-day”.
Asked which of his several illustrious team-mates had been the best, he said: “Casey (Stoner) had an amazing ability to find the limit on a dirty track. Dani (Pedrosa) was always so fast out of the corner. But the most … I think Valentino, to come back at 36 and achieve what he has.”
And one race he remembers in particular? That would be from dirt-track days … the Del Mar Mile, where he was leading on the last lap only to lose over the flag to Chris Carr. A Mile is one of the few races he has never won.
Hayden moves to World Superbikes next year, in the Ten Kate Honda team alongside Dutch bright hope Michael van der Mark.