INDIANAPOLIS, IN, AUG 28 – It’s been a very good weekend for Nicky Hayden.The “Kentucky Kid” not only earned his first front row grid spot with Ducati by setting the third fastest time in qualifying for his home race, the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix, but within hours it was announced that he’d been re-signed by the Italian factory for two more years. For the 2011-12 seasons Hayden will again be teamed with his Honda teammate from 2003, nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi.Hayden was asked about the impending announcement at the front row press conference, where he was discussing his first front row start since qualifying third for the season-ending Valencia Grand Prix in 2008.”Yeah, we may be up discussing again and start negotiating,” he joked before adding, “No, we’re close. Official announcement any minute now.” The press release was sent out at 7:42 p.m. about 2 ½ hours later while Hayden was beginning his duties as the grand marshal of the Indy Mile. The deal was announced at the dirt track with his team and Ducati brass in attendance.Hayden’s tireless work effort was cited in the press release as a major contributor to his re-signing.”It is no secret that he is a rider who never gives up, his whole racing history shows it.” Filippo Preziosi, Ducati Corse Director, said. “As a person his tenacity is an example for us all because he shows us that nothing is impossible if you truly believe.”Preziosi added, “Nicky is also a special rider because of his attention to every detail and for him having Valentino as his teammate means a huge contribution towards the development of an even more competitive motorcycle.”Hayden himself was quoted as saying, “Last year I felt like I rode for Ducati but now I really feel as if I am a Ducati rider. The team, sponsors and Ducati fans have really taken me in and supported me a lot and I really hope to pay them back with the results they deserve. Next year I’ll be teamed with some guy named Rossi who knows a little something about bikes! We’re going to have a strong squad – I won’t predict results but I have no doubt this team will have some real passion, real worth ethic and a lot of fun.”
Hayden and Rossi for Two Years
Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor
Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.