American rider Nicky Hayden reflects on final MotoGP start

Nicky Hayden of USA and Aspar Team MotoGP finished 17th place in Sunday's Valencia GP.

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As the 2015 MotoGP World Championship draws to a close, so too does Nicky Hayden’s premiere-class career.

Since joining the World Championship in 2003, the “Kentucky Kid” has gained many fans as well as a World Championship in 2006. The Valencia GP got off to a promising start for Hayden who was leading the Open riders during the opening stages of the race. For the first 27 laps of the 30 lap race Hayden led, but he experienced a significant drop in the right hand side of his tire, causing the wheel to spin. With just three laps to go, Hector Barbera slipped past and demoted Hayden to 17th place. Although unable to win on his final appearance, the Kentucky Kid put in one last solid effort.

Ahead of the weekend, Hayden was inducted into the MotoGP Hall of Fame as a MotoGP Legend, the paddock and racing community honoring all that the American has done in his 216 Grand Prix starts. For 2016 Hayden moves to the World Superbike paddock as he hopes to be the first rider to take both a MotoGP and WSBK title. He will remain in the Honda family as he joins the Ten Kate team aboard a CBR1000R in the production based series.

 “The start was really good,” reflected Hayden on his final race. “The first few laps weren’t too bad, I lost a couple of positions but the bike was working good and I was racing with guys that had been faster than me most of the weekend. Things weren’t going so bad, I was really working hard on the brakes and asking a lot of the front tire but I was getting away with it and the bike stayed consistent. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get into the 32s, which I wanted to and needed to, and then the last five or six laps I felt a big drop on the right side of the tire. The left side was incredibly consistent but the right side felt like it maybe had some cold tears in it, maybe it didn’t keep the temperature with the slightly cooler track today. It wasn’t spinning so much but entry grip got bad and then it was disappointing with three laps to go to see Barbera come past me on the front straightaway on the inside and then on the next lap Redding came past me on the outside. I’m not happy to lose those positions, although I did manage to get one back on the last lap on Bradl, which was nice.

“It would have been nice to be first Open today, we managed it for 27 laps but that’s why you’ve got to do all 30! It’s been a great ride to be a part of the MotoGP tour for the last 13 years and to win a world title. For me as kid growing up at the end of a gravel road in Kentucky proves that with the right attitude and support you can turn your dreams into reality. Thanks for the memories!”