Interview: Nicky Hayden on America’s Future
SJ: Do you think it would help if there were more American regulars here in the GP paddock? I tried to think of how many American season pass holders there are, and maybe I missed one or two, but I could only come up with Mark Elder (Ducati mechanic), Randy Mamola, you and me.
NH: I don’t know if that would make any difference. If the right kid was determined enough, hungry enough, focussed enough, he couldn’t care less about that. Maybe some kid might feel more comfortable, but it wouldn’t make a big difference.
SJ: What if there were more American sponsors active on MotoGP?
NH: Yeah, that would certainly help. But also, I think the right American riders will get the opportunity – because they are Americans. People say “Aww, he’s got the wrong passport,” and there’s only two races [in the U.S.] and not a lot of American sponsors. But I think if the right American kid shows the speed and potential, somebody here will take a chance on him. You know, this is a World Championship, and Dorna wants to see some Americans out there. Especially now with there still being two races in America.
SJ: The current AMA classes are oriented around current WSBK regulations. Do you think WSBK and WSS are good preparation for coming to MotoGP?
NH: I think the right, talented rider can ride anything. I think Superbike is even better preparation now than when [MotoGP] was two-strokes. And it’s good training if you’re coming to MotoGP. Maybe not if you’re going to Moto2, which we see is a great training ground.
But like I said, the right, talented rider, young and hungry, he’s gonna ride it if it’s Superbike or Moto2, and find their way to the front.
SJ: It seems like American kids have a lot of interest in flat track. Considering how MotoGP has changed over the past few years, is flat track still as good a foundation for road racing as it used to be?
NH: I think it’s really good preparation. Just riding motorcycles is good!
Obviously with Marquez winning and riding flat track, they see him doing it and they want to do it. Racers, you know, we’re like sheep. Same way on set-up, if you see something working for somebody. If Marc were out riding mini-moto, everybody would be out riding mini-moto.
But flat track is really fun, really cool, and that makes people motivated to try it. And it’s safe. Motocross is great physical training, but you have more risk. Whereas flat track, most of the guys I see are training on slower tracks, short tracks and TTs, where you minimize the risk; the dirt’s soft.
SJ: Dorna has taken a strong interest in what the new AMA is doing, so you think that’s going to help?
NH: I think so. MotoAmerica has made a nice splash, obviously having Wayne [Rainey] involved gives them a lot of credibility right from the start, and let’s see where it goes.
Thanks to Nicky Hayden for spending time with PHOTO.GP and sharing his views.
Photographs: ©2015–2015 by Scott Jones / PHOTO.GP – All Rights Reserved
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