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Interview with Ducati's Nicky Hayden

American Nicky Hayden, #69 with Ducati TeamThere 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.

MotoGP Primer

 Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa pilot Circuit of The Americas (photo by Keith Rizzo, Courtesy of COTA)

// MotoGP

This weekend, Austin will play host to the MotoGP World Championship, a two-wheeled series that brings the top technology in motorcycle racing to the heart of the Lone Star State. The race, an intense combination of speed and gravity defying track action, is the second race following the season opening event in Qatar.

MotoGP, touted as the world's oldest form of world championship racing, is considered by fans, media and riders around the world as the pinnacle of two-wheeled sports. Riders race in some of the most exotic and exclusive tracks in the world on top of the most advanced prototype racing machines in excess of 200mph. 

Like Formula 1, the extreme speed and intense competition between teams and riders has created a culture of glamour and exclusivity. The 18 racing events are held in 12 countries on five continents, and carry with them global sponsorship deals as some of the most reputable brands in the motorsport world such as Bridgestone, Shell, Ducati, Honda, and Yamaha, propel riders to the coveted championship win.

For the 2013 season, there are 24 riders representing 10 countries around the world. Unlike their four-wheeled grand prix counterparts, there are three riders in MotoGP from the USA (Nicky Hayden, Ben Spies and Colin Edwards) and two of which are native Texans (Spies and Edwards). The 2012 MotoGP championship was awarded to Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo, his second title, with Repsol Honda Racing Team's Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner following in second and third positions, respectively.

There are 12 teams competing in the 2013 season with a mix of chassis and engine suppliers in three informal categories, Factory, Factory-Supported and CRT. Factory teams such as Ducati, Yamaha and Honda are fully operated and supported by the manufacturer. Factory supported teams and CRT teams however can differ in their level of support from the manufacturer, with CRT teams such as Pramac and LCR Honda being operated completely privately with leased bikes from the manufacturer.

This weekend's Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas is the second event in the calendar for the 2013 MotoGP season and the first motorcycle race to be held at the new Austin circuit. A full schedule of this weekend's event can be downloaded here, along with a track map here and overview of this weekend's event from the MotoGP site.

Tickets are sold by Circuit of The Americas:

Fans interested in attending the MotoGP race on Sunday, April 21, may purchase general admission tickets for the price of $59 per person. Children ages 12 and under receive free general admission tickets when accompanied by a ticketed adult. Sunday-only general admission tickets can be purchased on race day, April 21, at the Circuit’s Grand Plaza ticket office. Three-day general admission tickets are still available for $89 per person. College students and military personnel can purchase three-day general admission tickets for $49 per person with a valid student or military ID.  Three-day reserved seats start at $133 per person.

To get you pumped up, here's a Red Bull promo video showcasing the arrival of MotoGP to Austin: