Motorsports | February 22, 2012
The off-season has not been kind to Ducati MotoGP rider Nicky Hayden. Since the final race of the 2011 MotoGP season at Valencia, Spain, American Hayden has been struck down by injuries suffered in the race compounded by another setback during pre-season.
Lesser men would have been left reeling and wondering which way to turn. Not Hayden. Ever optimistic and knowing no way but to get back up, Nicky dusted himself off and worked even harder.
Let’s backtrack. Hayden spent most of the post 2011 off-season rehabilitating his body from that disaster in Spain. The setting of the crash was sadly ironic, as Hayden actually won the 2006 MotoGP world championship on the very same track, a triumph that his many fans around the globe will not forget. Then Honda mounted, Hayden became the first American to win the MotoGP title since Kenny Roberts, Jr.
Since then, Hayden has become a factory MotoGP rider for the Ducati team. But MotoGP underwent dramatic change after the 2006 season. The bikes shrank—literally—from 990cc to 800cc, and it’s no secret that Hayden never felt the same on a 800cc MotoGP machine as he did on a mighty 990. The riding style required on an 800cc didn’t really suit a guy who grew up racing Superbikes in America, who was essentially incubated on the clay oval tracks of the US flat track series where sliding sideways at 120 mph is commonplace.
However, 2012 brings 1000cc racing back to MotoGP, with technical rules again allowing the engines to leap back into the liter class. Everyone who saw Hayden race a 1000cc Superbike here in the USA or on a 990 MotoGP bike at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was looking forward to him reviving his career in the post “mini-bike” period of MotoGP.
Then, in late December, Hayden was re-injured when he crashed a dirt bike in his native Owensboro, Kentucky. He broke a bone in his shoulder and damaged some ribs, and could only ride short stints at the first MotoGP test of the 2012 season. After doing so and realizing his body needed help he returned home for more surgery.
While Hayden admits that the off-season and pre-season have been disappointing, the upside is that he has been able to take rides on his new bicycle, which he keeps at his “winter” home in Southern California.
His new S-Works Venge is great for all-out sprints. Creating the world’s fastest UCI legal road bike required a new formula for lightweight, stiffness and aerodynamics. Specialized left the world of cycling and took the Venge to McLaren, where they applied materials, technology and manufacturing methods normally used in F1.
“I think that it’s awesome that my bicycle has a design inspired by McLaren and Formula One. I’m hoping to be spending a lot of time on it in the coming weeks,” said Hayden.
The bicycle will be an integral part of recovering strength and fitness. It’s also a great way for Nicky to pass the time while he waits for the chance to get back on the “liter bikes” and the 2012 MotoGP season to begin.