It will be champion and former champion at Repsol-Honda this weekend as American rider, Nicky Hayden, makes a return to the factory team.
MotoGP Race Starts: 217, Race Wins: 3, Podiums: 53, World Championships: 1
The circumstances are obviously not ideal – Dani Pedrosa’s collarbone injury has not improved enough to pass him fit in time. However, it is perhaps fitting – certainly very poetic – that it should be Hayden who replaces him this weekend. As Honda celebrate winning the rider’s championship with Marc Marquez, so does the team welcome back the man who claimed the same honour with them in 2006.
This isn’t the first time that the man known as the ‘Kentucky Kid’ has wildcarded in MotoGP this season – having stood in for Jack Miller at the Aragon grand prix last month, on the MarcVDS satellite machine. That being said, expectations must not be raised too high, as Hayden has had no other experience on this year’s prototype bikes. Instead he has become an integral part of the Honda World Superbike Team this season, having scored 4 podium finishes and a race win at Imola.
His pedigree and reputation, as one of the hardest working riders, would have played as crucial a part for him securing this ride as his association with the factory Superbike outfit. For Repsol-Honda, they have a rider capable of running towards the front of the field, thus being able to obtain crucial points for the manufacturers’ championship.
The MotoGP Australian Grand-Prix commences 21st-23rd October.