The Associated Press reports that American World Superbike racer and 2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden passed away today from injuries sustained in an accident while riding his pedal bicycle near Riccione, Italy. He was 35-years-old. Hayden was surrounded by his immediate family at the time of his death. The announcement comes from the Maurizio Bufalini hospital according to the AP news report.
“On behalf of the whole Hayden family and Nicky’s fiancée Jackie I would like to thank everyone for their messages of support – it has been a great comfort to us all knowing that Nicky has touched so many people’s lives in such a positive way,” said his older brother Tommy.
“Although this is obviously a sad time, we would like everyone to remember Nicky at his happiest – riding a motorcycle. He dreamed as a kid of being a pro rider and not only achieved that but also managed to reach the pinnacle of his chosen sport in becoming World Champion. We are all so proud of that.”
A life-long racer, Nicky was the middle child in the Hayden clan— a trio of Kentucky racing brothers who cut their teeth at an early age in the American flat track racing scene. Nicky transitioned into road racing amassing numerous wins and an AMA Superbike championship in 2001 with the factory Honda team.
He moved to the MotoGP World Championship shortly after with the prestigious Repsol Honda squad ultimately netting a championship in a heated, down to the last race battle with nine-time GP champ Valentino Rossi.
Known for his never-say-die attitude, and determination on, and off track, Hayden remained a fixture in the GP paddock competing for the Ducati Corse squad for many years before returning to Honda. Last year marked his return to superbike racing with the Honda Ten Kate team.
“Apart from these ‘public’ memories, we will also have many great and happy memories of Nicky at home in Kentucky, in the heart of the family. We will all miss him terribly,” continued Tommy.
“It is also important for us to thank all the hospital staff for their incredible support – they have been very kind. With the further support of the authorities in the coming days we hope to have Nicky home soon.”
Nicky is survived by his father Earl and mother Rose, along with siblings Tommy, Roger Lee, Kathleen and Jenny.