There are three Americans currently competing in the MotoGP World Championship and one of them is Kentucky native Nicky Hayden, aka the "Kentucky Kid." Hayden started riding at age 3, racing at age 5, and, at age 18, won the AMA Supersport crown. In 2002 he became the youngest ever AMA Superbike Champion and was rewarded with a promotion to MotoGP with the Repsol Honda factory team.
In 2005, just three years into his MotoGP career with the Repsol Honda team, Nicky won his first race on American soil at Laguna Seca in California. The following year, Hayden fulfilled a lifelong dream and earned the 2006 MotoGP World Championship after a season-long battle with Valentino Rossi. At 31 years of age, Hayden has now started in 168 MotoGP races, won three, and been crowned World Champion; a well earned career for this young American motorsports star.
Racing for the Ducati Team in Friday's practice sessions at Circuit of The Americas, Hayden's top speed was 207.16 mph with a peak lap time of 2:07.699. We caught up with Nicky Friday afternoon to get his insight into the new American circuit.
AGP: What parts of the track do you find most interesting?
NH: Well obviously Turn 1, as you can tell, it’s pretty interesting. But I would say I kinda like the stadium section. Even though it is really slow, and I’m sure some people probably don’t like it because it’s, ya know, it’s first gear, but ah, it’s quite fun and quite technical. But the best is, the, uh, I don’t know the number off the top of my head, but the downhill left-hander. The blind one there is pretty good.
(Hayden is most likely referring to Turn 10.)
AGP: What do you think about from a fan’s perspective, where do you think they’ll see a lot of action?
NH: Well I’m not, uh…I’m not an expert on that, I haven’t been out watching, so, I can’t really say, but I think they’re gonna get their money’s worth, obviously. That stadium section has gotta be good cause you can see a lot. I can see a lot of people there because you can sit in one spot, watch part of the track on the big screen and then see four or five corners. But the best is probably up in that Tower. But I’m not sure how easy it’s gonna be to get up there for the general fan but if you can get up there I’d say take your lawn chair and go post up there!
AGP: What do you think about Austin as a city so far, as a destination?
NH: I mean, I like it…for me it’s awesome to come cause it’s so close to home, so easy and pretty convenient. So far downtown is uh, well, you know, I haven’t really seen a lot of it because I’ve been at the track mostly. But for me, it’s like more or less being at home compared to a lot of places I go so I like it.
Stay tuned to see what the Kentucky Kid has in store for us this weekend. You can follow along via Hayden's Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram feed or go to his autograph session at the Grand Plaza inside Turn 19 on Saturday at 4:30PM.