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GP Week : Issue 13
5 Minutes with ... NICKY HAYDEN NICKY Hayden, a factory Honda rider since 2003, is the most recent American World Champion, winner in 2006 after finally getting back ahead of Rossi in the final round. Nicky hasn’t won a race since then – the switch to 800s counting against a rider who cut his teeth riding sideways on US dirt tracks. This year, the middle of three racing brothers has been overshadowed by team- mate Dani Pedrosa, but the hard-working Kentucky Kid isn’t one to give up. GPWEEK: Are the MotoGP 800s harder for you? NICKY HAYDEN: I’d be lying if I said no. There’s parts I really like about the 800, but the 990 was big, heavy, and I think with my size and my style, being aggressive, the 800s became harder for me. But in fact the weight is the same. It’s the power. And now the electronics. We didn’t have those in the 990s. Is it just that the 800s don’t need as much muscle? It takes more smoothness, less aggression, less muscle. What’s the most fun you’ve had racing? Was it dirt-track? Winning that World title. I enjoy riding motorcycles in my backyard with only my dad there with a stopwatch, but winning that title – talk about fun. People said to me, you must have had so much fun that season, leading on points. I can tell you, it wasn’t fun until I crossed the line at Valencia. Your brothers Tommy and Roger Lee race in the US. Do you envy them getting to go home after every race? I do think sometimes when they’re racing in Atlanta, Ohio, or Wisconsin, they’re sleeping in their own beds Sunday night, driving home, stopping at a good American restaurant. I remember that being nice. And in America we could fly private. The whole mob together. I wouldn’t trade. But I wouldn’t rule out racing back in the US one day. Do your brothers envy you? A little bit yeah and a little bit no. When they see me headed out for three or four weeks, I think they shake their heads. But I don’t look at it like that. A year or two back you have me a good line about girls … that the faster you go, the prettier they get. Is that still true? And the more dangerous! There’s a time and a place, but I’m not a faggot so I’m not saying they don’t cross my mind. But I won’t be riding my scooter around until midnight trying to find the one that’s in the skimpiest outfit. I thought it was the other way round … they chase you! Well, yeah – but I’m a competitor, so I like a challenge. The ones with their phone numbers waiting at my motorhome step – y’know, they have to go. I want a little bit of a challenge. I don’t like taking candy from a baby. Are you still a hip-hop fan? I like music a lot. I download some weird stuff – a little bit of everything. The last concert I went to was T-Pain, and the last song I downloaded was I think T-Pain and Rick Ross, all hip-hop. But I’ve got some fruity tunes on my I-pod, mainly hip-hop and rap. But on a 15-hour flight to Japan, I can’t have 15 hours about cars, clothes and hos. I gotta mix something else in. Like a country song, where his truck fires up, he gets his dog back, and his wife comes home. That doesn’t happen in hip-hop … After bike racing, what? NASCAR? Did going to the Indy 500 open your eyes? I know I’m dumb and that I’m going to have to think I’m not going to race GPs until I’m 60. But even as a kid I never thought I’d better go to school and have a Plan B when this racing is over. I’m going to ride this until the wheels come off. I love racing motorcycles, and I’m a competitor. But cars ….. phhhhh. Definitely some interest, but the seat belt thing is hard for me, when I have done car things. I hate being tied in. Finally, you’re obviously a hat man – a different hat for every occasion. Is that fair? (Laughs) I don’t buy hats. But like Press people like free meals, I like free clothes. They fit better. And my sponsor Red Bull just seems to keep on giving me a different hat. Actually today’s (a strange zip-combo beanie) is from Oakley, but as you can tell I ain’t paid for this one either. I just run whatever they give me. I normally lose them – I’m a sucker for a kid that wants my hat. So they go bye-bye a lot … Hats, music, girls … and racing. That’s how a casual chat with America’s most recent world bike champion goes. Ask MICHAEL SCOTT 18