Looking Back At 2013 - Rating The Riders: 9th, Nicky Hayden, 6/10

In the penultimate part of our restrospective on the season just past, we look back at Nicky Hayden. Here is our view of his final season with Ducati, and his move to Aspar for 2014. To read the rest of our reviews of last year, you can read part 1, Marc Marquez; part 2, Jorge Lorenzo; part 3, Dani Pedrosa; part 4, Valentino Rossi; part 5, Cal Crutchlow; part 6, Alvaro Bautistapart 7, Stefan Bradl; and part 8, Andrea Dovizioso.

Nicky Hayden Ducati Factory
Championship position: 9th
Score: 6/10

It's been a tough few years for Nicky Hayden. Since joining Ducati in 2009, his results have been in steady decline, along with the performance of the Desmosedici. The 2013 season was the second season in a row where the American did not score a single podium, Hayden finishing in the same position as 2012, with four more points than last year.

This year was probably his toughest with the Italian manufacturer. Hayden found himself battling with teammate Andrea Dovizioso just about all year long, starting from the first race in Qatar. The Ducatis were a match only for each other, not for the other prototypes. In twelve of the eighteen races, Dovizioso and Hayden finished behind each other, the only other rider they regularly tangled with being Bradley Smith, a MotoGP rookie. More times than not, Hayden emerged as loser of the intra Ducati battles, finishing behind Dovizioso nine times, and ahead of him only seven times.

The fact that Hayden was not beating his teammate would end up costing him his job. The American was left waiting for a long time for word from Ducati, though by the time the circus rolled up in Assen, Hayden could see the writing on the wall. 'I'm not feeling it,' he said, Ducati not even approaching him about a renewal. At the Sachsenring, he was told there was no place in the factory team for him, though Ducati were keen to keep him in the family, trying to persuade him to switch to World Superbikes to race the Panigale, or else line up in the Pramac team with factory backing.

That news, and the news that Cal Crutchlow would be taking his place, left Hayden frustrated, but he turned his frustration into determination, focusing even harder on beating his teammate. The battles between the two grew tougher, the most memorable moment coming at Indianapolis, where Hayden put a very harsh move on Dovizioso at the very last corner, the two running wide and jumping the kerbing laid down to mark where the infield track meets the oval. Both Hayden and Dovizioso were spoken to firmly by Ducati management, and told to treat each other with a little more care on the track. Hayden complied, but still battled hard, beating his teammate in the last three races of the season.

Hayden had been hampered all season by a swollen wrist, the result of a screw fitted to fix an injury sustained at the start of 2012. The swelling came and went, but was clearly visible every time Hayden spoke to the press. The American never complained - it is not in his temperament to complain - but appeared to be treating it gingerly on several occasions during the season. It probably had a bigger effect than he let on, and Hayden finally had the screw removed after the final race of the year at Valencia.

Being released from his contract with Ducati had the positive side effect of freeing him up a little from his corporate persona. Ever the gentleman, and ever the good company spokesman, Hayden let things ride a little, speaking more freely than he ever has before, pointing more clearly to where he believes Ducati went wrong, and telling the press that he regretted not having another shot at testing the carbon fiber chassis again at the end of the 2011 season.

Release for Hayden came finally at Australia, when the Aspar team finally announced they had signed the American, and would be racing Honda's RCV1000R production racer. By that time, Hayden's signing with Aspar was an open secret, the American's father and brother having regularly been spotted entering the Aspar truck. Being caught out on social media didn't help, Hayden getting the privacy settings wrong on a training app, and uploading a run which he had taken in Noale, the home base of Aprilia. After Gigi Dall'Igna left Aprilia for Ducati, Aspar quickly dropped their original choice of continuing with Aprilia, and with the backing of American Honda, secured a production Honda for Hayden and his teammate Hiroshi Aoyama. Having Hayden on a production Honda will be an excellent test for just how good the production Hondas are in 2014.

High point:

Nicky Hayden's season had very few high points on track, with the possible exception of his fierce battles with his teammate. But the real high point came off track, when he finally announced his signing with Aspar. Though his future had never really been in doubt, signing with the best CRT team - or Open team, as we must now call them - was a boost for the American. A visibly more cheerful Hayden once again found new motivation. A change, as they say, is clearly as good as a rest.

Low point:

If signing with Aspar was the high point of his season, the low point was losing his factory seat at Ducati. Hayden had been clear that his goal was to stay in MotoGP, and the World Superbike offer from Ducati was something he was only prepared to entertain as a last resort. What irked Hayden most about losing the Ducati seat was that he felt progress was imminent. He had gone through so many hard years with Ducati that to miss out when (or if) Ducati finally did start to show real improvement would be too frustrating to contemplate. Given the revolution going on at Ducati at the moment, it would have been a long wait for Hayden anyway.

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Agreed SV650Nut.

It's possible to view a ranking of 6/10 for Hayden as generous considering he only finished 9th for the season on a factory bike, but I'm more inclined to think it's a bit harsh considering all he tried to do with the pathetic little he was given.

In Mr. Emmit's defence there's no great way to measure how Nicky stacks up against other top riders so long as he was stuck on the Duc, and it's hard to score him higher than the riders that finished ahead of him even if they had better machines.

I hope for Nicky's sake that he discovers the bike was indeed holding him back. I have every reason to think that was the case. Regardless, he seems like a good guy.

An Ex MotoGP champion "has been Hayden" gets a point more than his teammate that beat him on the same bike by 14 points this season? Seriously?

Considering what machinery Hayden was on and his injury... he deserves a higher rating imo. Hayden fighting hard on the Ducati through the wrist pain every race weekend should be a score of 8 at the least. Not talking smask about Ducati (same as he did with Honda) should be given a 9. Hayden did land a nice gig though. I'd would have like to see him on the LCR or Gresini Team with a possible shot at getting an RCV underneath him! But to be back on a Honda must be a WIN for him! I can't wait to read an interview from him about his time at Ducati and being back with Honda! David, can you get an interview with Nicky Hayden for all of us???

He tried to help you by writing an entire article instead of just posting a number. This is the comment section -- why do you think that Andreas should have had an equal or higher rating? Since it's the off season, let's have some fun with this.

let's have some fun with this.

2006 was the year NH was given the championship and he will always go down as the championship winner, the guy he beat won more races that season than NH has won in his whole MotoGP career. The guy who won the deciding last race was a wildcard, NH as he has done his whole MotoGP career, just took the points.

He's done nothing since.

A new team member joins his Ducati team in 2013, beats him by 14 points, but gets 5/10 compared to NH 6/10 Pfft. Let's have some fun with this. How many seasons had NH worked with Ducati compared to AD? Let's have some fun with this! ;)

Clearly,he considers Hayden's injury and career uncertainty to be mitigating factors,as well as his last 1/3 season performance ,relative to his teammate....one could easily have a different subjective opinion,subjective being the key word...
as for his Championship, Wotid, nothing subjective about it....I find it hard to believe someone could actually write such a misguided bit of piffle....exactly who is it that "gave" Hayden his title? Every other rider? The other teams? Sort of team orders for the whole paddock..a secret directive instructing all riders-"LET NICKY WIN". Do those who paid to see the races that year deserve a refund,since no one else was trying to win that year,intent instead upon giving Hayden the title? Were there special rules set up for just that year that allowed Nicky to rack up points and others not so much? He fucking won. He beat everyone else. That is how they decide the championship every year. The rider with the most points wins....Apparently both logic and math eludes you...but indeed,if you have evidence the entire field threw the season so that Nicky could win,please fill us in...otherwise,brown eyes....you are F.O.S.

I've liked some MotoGP champions a lot, and others not as much, but I give credit to all of them. If you accumulate the greatest number of points over an entire season against the best in the world you (a) earned the title and (b) deserve the credit.

Well he hasn't won any races or championships, but then again neither has anyone else not named Stoner, Rossi, Lorenzo and Pedrosa (and Spies and I suppose Dovi in the wet).
What he has done though is scored a couple podiums which in itself is an amazing achievement in any weather on that bike.
He regularly placed higher than Rossi when he was at Ducati. And if you're going to compare him to Dovi, well Dovi came into Ducati as the clear #1. Sure Hayden had been there longer but I think everyone would agree that at the time, after great years with Tech 3 and Honda, Dovi was coming into this factory as the top rider. So he placed higher than Hayden 9 times to Hayden's 7. As far as I'm concerned, that difference is really negligible. The two were pretty much equal when it comes down to it (Dovi qualified well a couple times but it never materialized).
Dovi had an extremely forgettable season whereas Nicky had a mediocre one. Chalk the one point penalty up to the fact that Nicky kept his head down and plugging away as Dovi got more and more frustrated. Or that more was expected of Dovi and he didn't deliver, whereas Hayden was pretty much right on the mark (albeit with probably lower expectations). And before anyone starts I respect Dovi very much and hope 2014 is kinder to him.

While not the fastest rider on the grid, he gives his all. Which much more than I can say for most of the field. Even some journalist that are disgusted with his talent and find him to be a false World Champion feel for him with the Ducati. I get the rating, IMHO it has more to do with NH as a person of integrity. Every last rider on the grid has bitched moaned and blamed the bike for their issues when they have them. NH would rather have a goddamn STROKE not saying a bad thing about a bad bike because he is LOYAL.

To this day he has only received the door for his loyalty. Honda, I cannot really knock for kicking him to the curb. Did not like it, but they clearly make good bikes and have everyone knocking at their door. DUCATI... total opposite. No rider, NOT ONE has defended or just not said negative things about them when there was clearly a problem like NH. Everyone knows the bikes sucks, you can see it watching from trackside during practice and he saves a slide that the bike does not work for him. He only started to admit it after they made it public that they did not want him.

Sure, he is not fast or as talented as many in the field of riders. But he bitches the least out of all and takes blame for things that he did not create. Hate on what I said if you want, but he has shown the decency of him as a person at Ducati in particular. Wish him luck next year, but I do not really expect to see him on the podium.

How about considering Nicky's talent level and where his results were, compare that to Dovi's talent level (higher) and the fact that he was barely better than Nicky, and you have a rider in Nicky who used what he had slightly better than Dovi used what he had. Dovi is a more talented rider, but Nicky equaled his performance. Dovi didn't live up to his talent level as well as Nicky lived up to his. so, a 5 for Dovi and a 6 for Nicky. Dovi should have been better than Nicky, but he wasn't.

As I remember Nicky was ahead of Dovi when he blew his motor at Sepang which would have possibly made it pretty even between the Desmo riders.

Nicky Hayden in no way got the respect or recognition that he deserved from Honda in 2006 onwards. Whilst leading that year, the 2007 bike the whole time was being developed 100% for Pedrosa. It was their future strategy, but suggests that Honda didn't believe in him.

Now, with Shuhei Nakamoto at the helm of HRC since the end of 2008/start 2009 (after Nicky was dropped), this man seems to have honesty and integrity. And no doubt would respect Nicky's attitude.

I really hope that HRC can provide all it takes to Nicky to help him succeed on the new production racer. A bit of recognition and support, better late than never.