Hayden makes championship run at AMA Supercuts Superbike Challenge, May 3-5. SONOMA, Calif. - Honda's Nicky Hayden fell one spot short of his goal at Sears Point Raceway last year when Yamaha's Anthony Gobert barely beat him to the checkered...
Hayden makes championship run at AMA Supercuts Superbike Challenge, May 3-5.
SONOMA, Calif. - Honda's Nicky Hayden fell one spot short of his goal at Sears Point Raceway last year when Yamaha's Anthony Gobert barely beat him to the checkered flag at the AMA U.S. Chevy Trucks Superbike Championship Series event.
This year, the 20-year-old rider returns to Sears Point primed to take his first Superbike win on the twisting road course at the AMA Supercuts Superbike Challenge, May 3-5.
Overall, Hayden has been quite successful at Sears Point Raceway, winning both the Formula Xtreme and Supersport championships in 1999. His second-place finish in 2001marked his best Superbike effort at Sears Point.
Hayden enters Sears Point with momentum, having won four of the last five AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike races of the 2001 season, and finishing third overall in the points standings. He has continued his charge in 2002 by winning the Daytona 200, and one round of the Superbike doubleheader at California Speedway. He enters Sears Point atop the Superbike standings.
Hayden's success shouldn't be a surprise as he comes from a family that's deeply involved in the racing scene. His older brother, Tommy, competes in the Pro Honda Oils U.S. Supersport class, and his younger brother, Roger, is riding Hondas for the Erion Racing Team in both the 600 Supersport class and Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme.
This year, Nicky's back riding Honda's RC51 Superbike, and nobody's learned the ropes faster. Soft-spoken, polite, and quick with a smile, Hayden makes it look easy on the track, smoothly drifting both wheels through a turn, yet lapping at a blistering pace.
"I'm really looking forward to the 2002 season," he said. "It seems like we've really got all the pieces in place this year. I know how important it is to be consistent, and to just keep working toward my goal at every race. We've definitely got the right package with the RC51.
"I've been riding motorcycles for as long as I can remember," Hayden said in his native Kentucky drawl. "When I was little, we went to the race track like other kids went to the park. One of the biggest advantages for me is that racing came pretty naturally. It's something that I've worked pretty hard at - even though I'm young, I've been racing a long time."
While Hayden has enjoyed success on the AMA circuit, he remains humble, whether it's signing an autograph for a fan or standing on the podium.
"I just feel real fortunate to get paid to do what I love to do. And this is just awesome for me - it's a dream come true," he said. "So I want to enjoy it while I can, and work hard, because I know at any moment it could be gone. It might not last forever, so I just want to try to make the most of it while I can."
Both Hayden and his teammate, Miguel Duhamel, will ride in the Superbike class for the 2002 season, including the Supercuts Superbike Challenge at Sears Point Raceway. With this and other events favoring a doubleheader format it's becoming tough to be competitive in more than one class, and Honda's RC51 demands all of your attention, all of the time. Straightaway speeds of 175-plus mph are common, and chassis and suspension setup and tuning are as complex and demanding as an Indy car.
Hayden is up to the task for the 2002 season, and if everything falls into place he'll be crowned champion of the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Superbike Championship.