Number 69 Retired in Tribute to Nicky Hayden

Back in January, Dorna announced that number 69 would be retired from racing, as a mark of respect for the late, 2006 MotoGP champion.

Nicky Hayden spent his entire career – from grassroots series, all the way up to MotoGP – riding under this number.

Dorna CEO, Carmelo Ezpeleta, stated at the ceremony that “Since the beginning, after we lost him, we thought it’s something we must do. Nicky was something special for all us, his behavior was really fantastic.”

 

“Nicky had a lot of success on track, but I think we all agree he made just as big an impact off the track and everyone’s lives – whether friends, family or fans. That’s something we are most proud of.”
– Tommy Hayden

Nicky Hayden’s family, surrounding his championship winning bike. (Credit: MotoGP.com)

 

Further to the official ceremony, Hayden’s 2006 championship winning bike was on display for fans at COTA’s turn 18. This part of the track has been affectionately renamed “Hayden Hill”.

This ceremony comes after Nicky was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2018.

 

Who is Nicky Hayden? A look back at his career…

Joining MotoGP in 2003, Hayden burst on to the scene with his fun-loving attitude, joking nature and, most importantly, serious speed!

In his first season, Nicky was invited to join leading team Repsol Honda, to ride alongside reigning world champion, Valentino Rossi. He finished fifth in the championship and, thanks to impressive performances, secured the title of “Rookie of the Year”. He then landed his first race win at the Laguna Seca GP in 2005.

Then, in 2006, came Hayden’s finest year as he ended his team-mates 5-year-long streak of Championship titles. He led the way for much of the season – taking command of the standings after only the third race. However, he was forced to fight back after an incident with Dani Pedrosa, at the penultimate race, left him eight points behind Rossi.

 

Moments after crossing the line and securing the 2006 title. (Credit: MotoGP.com)

 

Two further years with Repsol Honda were followed by five, sadly unsuccessful season with Ducati before he finished his MotoGP career with two years at Honda Aspar.

Making the switch to join World Superbikes for the 2016 season saw Nicky quickly return to his winning ways on the Red Bull Honda machine. He finished fifth in the championship after securing a brilliant win at the Malaysian GP and three additional podium finishes.

On the 17th of May 2017, Nicky was training in Italy after the recent Italian GP. He was hit by a car whilst cycling and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He died in hospital, five days later, aged 35.

 

(Credit: MotoGP.com)

 

Why did Nicky choose number 69?

Despite its connotations, Nicky, in fact, chose the number as it had been used by his father, Earl Hayden, who was also a racer. It was previously used by both of his brothers, during their own careers. This then allowed them the option to use each other’s machines if one happened to break down during a weekend of racing – so rumour says.

It is said that Earl originally chose the number after crashing a lot, stating that people could still read the number, even if the bike was upside down.

Nicky spent just one year without the number 69 on the front of his bike. In 2017, after winning the MotoGP World Championship, he traded it for number 1.

 

(Credit: MotoGP.com)

 

Who else has ridden under the number 69?

  • Roger De Coster – a professional Motorcross racer and is now Motorsport Director of KTM. He won five 500cc titles under the number 69.
  • Jimmy Gaddis – secured the 1991 125cc Supercross Championship, and later two AMA Arenacross Championships whilst adorned with the number 69
  • Ernesto Fonseca – a hugely successful Supercross and Motorcross rider who used number 69 throughout his career
  • Carlo Coen used number 69 in 1996 during his American Motorcross and Supercross careers
  • Doug Henry was adorned with number 69 in 1990 before going on to become a three-time AMA Motorcross champion
  • Kent Howerton rode with number 69 in 1989 after winning three AMA national championships, including the 500cc title in 1976 and the 250cc title in 1980 and 1981
  • Rodney Smith, now a Motorcross Hall of Fame inductee, used number 69 on his bike in 1983 before going on to win five Brazilian MX championships and a further 13 AMA National championships

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP.com


Posted on 15th April, 2019 for The Checkered Flag

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Marquez Steals MotoGP Pole in COTA

Reigning champion Marc Marquez has put himself and the Repsol Honda in the best position possible to secure his much sought-after seventh consecutive win at COTA.

Setting a time of 2:03.787 early in the Q2 session, he secured his seventh pole in a role at the American circuit. Just 0.273 seconds behind was Valentino Rossi on the Yamaha with Cal Crutchlow rounding out the top three.

Marquez’s closest title rival, Andrea Dovizioso failed to make it into Q1 and will start from thirteenth for tomorrow’s race. He briefly took the promotion spots, setting the fastest Q1 times, but was eventually demoted to the fifth row of the grid.

Thankfully, qualifying was able to take place on a relatively dry track. The earlier Free Practice 3 sessions were canceled for all classes after severe rain and lightning.

Jack Miller and his Ducati secured fourth ahead of a Spanish trio. Pol Espargaro landed KTM’s best MotoGP starting position in fifth. He will line up ahead of Friday’s pace-setter, Maverick Vinales and Alex Rins who took sixth and seventh respectively.

Danilo Petrucci, rookie Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli then rounded out the top ten, who all completed lap times within 1.5s of each other.

 

Qualifying 1

Recovering Jorge Lorenzo set the best time in Q1 before struggling in Q2 after his bike jumped a chain. He will start tomorrows race in eleventh, ahead of Francesco Bagnaia in twelfth who suffered two crashes during qualifying.

Dovizioso will line up next to Joan Mir and Takaaki Nakagami who took fourteenth and fifteenth respectively. The Aprillia pairing of Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Iannone secured sixteenth and seventeenth ahead of Miguel Oliveira in eighteenth.

Johann Zarco in nineteenth was just 0.969s off the pace to make it into Q2. The starting grid will be rounded out by Karel Abraham, Hafizh Syahrin and Tito Rabat. 

Tomorrow’s MotoGP race will kick off at 6pm (UK time) and The Checkered Flag will have all the updates to keep you fully informed. Stay tuned!

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP.com


Posted on April 14th, 2019 for The Checkered Flag

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MotoGP COTA Practice Cancelled

With large storms hitting the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) on Saturday morning, all three classes have had their Free Practice 3 session canceled.

The lightning and heavy rain have simply left the track too dangerous to venture out on. This meant that several delays culminated in canceled sessions.

However, this weather had been predicted and resulted in a heavier focus than usual placed on Fridays Free Practice 1 and 2.

As a result, it was Maverick Viñales who came out on top, marginally ahead of Marc Marquez. The reigning champion is chasing his seventh COTA win. Moto2 saw Marcel Schrotter and his Dynavolt Intact GP bike lead the way in both Friday session. Romano Fenati dominated both Mot2 sessions on the VNE Snipers machine.

Qualifying is still due to go ahead as normal, however this is subject to the conditions at the time. They are scheduled to kick off at 20:10 (UK time) for Qualifying 1 and 20:35 for Qualifying 2.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP.com


Posted on 13th April, 2019 for The Checkered Flag

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Marquez Dominates to Take Impressive Victory in Argentina

A sublime performance handed victory to reigning champion, Marc Marquez and Repsol Honda for the 2019 Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina. After his struggles at the Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo in 2018, it seemed Marquez had a score to settle – and settle it he did, leading from pole, not making a single error. 

He finished nearly 10 seconds ahead of Valentino Rossi, who secured his first podium since Catalunya 2018. Rossi was able to secure second place after passing Mission Winnow Ducati rider, Andrea Dovizioso on the final lap of the race.

Numerous riders battled over the final two podium spots before Rossi and Dovizioso broke away to fight their own battle. It seemed experience allowed the pair to hold their position whilst still saving tyres and break away from the pack.

But it wasn’t until the final lap when Rossi finally took second place. Despite Dovizioso leading his compatriot since lap 8, Rossi snuck up on the inside of turn 7 to masterfully secure this spot with just a few corners to spare.

First of the riders to miss out on a podium was, last years pole sitter, Jack Miller and his Pramac Ducati who showed wisdom beyond his years as he held back a late attack from Alex Rins, who subsequently finished in fifth. Rins also enjoyed an impressive ride, recovering from his starting position of sixteenth.

The pair battled on ahead of a nasty clash between Franco Morbidelliand Maverick Vinales, knocking them out sixth and seventh, respectively, on the final lap of the race. They clashed at turn 7, as Morbidelli hit the back of Vinales and ruined both their races.

Further retirements came from Joan Mir on a Suzuki Ecstar with mechanical issues and Avintia Ducati team-mates, Tito Rabat and Karel Abraham who crashed on the penultimate lap.

Some might argue that the toughest day of all was faced by Cal Crutchlow and Jorge Lorenzo. Lorenzo was pushed back to last place after just the first corner of the race, whilst Crutchlow was given a controversial ride-through penalty for a jump start. The pair recovered and climbed through the pack to finish twelfth and thirteenth respectively.

They finished just behind siblings, Aleix and Pol Espargaro who rounded out the top ten after the Morbidelli and Vinales incident.

2019 Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina Results

Championship standings

After two races, Marquez now leads the championship ahead of Dovizioso despite his win in Qatar. Rossi has been promoted to third after his impressive return to form, ahead of Rins and Danilo Petrucci.


Posted on 2nd April, 2019 for The Checkered Flag

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Marquez Take Pole in Argentina

After storming ahead during Free Practice 4 in Argentina, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez kept up this impressive form in qualifying. This is his fifth pole in six attempts at the Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo.

Qualifying 1

The first of those to miss out on Q2 was Aleix Espargaro who took thirteenth place. He finished just one spot ahead of a struggling Alex Rins and his Suzuki.

Miguel Oliveira and Karel Abrhm both impressed as they took fourteenth and fifteenth, missing out on Q2 by a few hundredths of a second each.

A difficult day was faced by Johann Zarco and Joan Mir who took eighteenth and nineteenth respectively. They were just ahead of  Tito Rabat, Hafizh Syahrin and Andrea Iannone who round out the grid for tomorrows race.

Qualifying 2

With a pole time of 1:38.304, Marquez saw off a late challenge from Maverick Vinales who was just 0.154s off the pace.

Qatar winner, Andrea Divizioso will start from third place tomorrow after pulling out a brilliant lap in the dying stages of qualifying. Valentino Rossi and Jack Miller, last years pole-sitter, took fourth and fifth respectively.

It was hard to split the top five who were covered by just 0.244s. The next five riders were just as close, again covered by just over two-tenths of a second.

A time of 1:38.886 gave an impressive sixth place to Franco Moribelli. His Petronas Yamaha team-mate, Fabio Quartararo, was less than 0.01s behind to land an equally impressive seventh place for the rookie.

Last years Argentinian race winner, Cal Crutchlow took eighth – he failed to improve on his time as the session clocked reached its end. Takaaki Nakagami and a struggling Danilo Petrucci round out the top ten in eighth and ninth respectively.

Jorge Lorenzo’s difficult weekend continued as he had his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits. This pushed him back to twelfth.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP.com


Posted on 31st March, 2019 for The Checkered Flag

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Marquez and Dovizioso Top Free Practice 1 and 2 in Argentina

Free Practice 1

The first MotoGP practice session of the 2019 Argentina MotoGP weekend saw reigning champion Marc Marquez set a time of 1:39.827 as the chequered flag fell to finish fastest. He was the only rider to set a time under the 1 minute 40 seconds barrier.

Just 0.353 seconds behind Marquez was Pramac Ducati rider, and last year’s Argentinian pole-sitter, Jack Miller. He finished in second place ahead of Cal Crutchlow, who ended the session a mere 0.035 seconds behind the Australian.

Next came Franco MorbidelliAndrea Ianonne and Johann Zarcowho took fourth, fifth and sixth places. The top 6 riders all set times within just six-tenths of each other.

Championship leader, Andrea Dovizioso ended the session in seventh, followed by rookie Fabio Quartararo. Rounding out the top ten were Suzuki’s Alex Rins and Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi, with the top ten covered by only a second.

A more difficult day was faced by recovering Jorge Lorenzo, 1.513 seconds off the pace in fourteenth. Maverick Vinales, who stated he was testing overtaking opportunities rather than outright pace, ended the session in eighteenth.

The only incidents of the session occurred at turn 1, with both Joan Mir and Danilo Petrucci coming off and, consequently, finishing in nineteenth and twentieth places.

Free Practice 2

Qatar race winner, Andrea Dovisiozo snatched the top spot for the second session from Jack Miller. He set a time just nine-thousandths of a second ahead of his team-mate, with a time of 1:39.181.

The rest of the timings were equally as close with all but one of the riders covered by less than a second and the top 10 covered by half a second.

Third place was taken by Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales, who finished ahead of Briton’s Cal Crutchlow by only one thousandths of second.

MotoGP rookie, Fabio Quartararo, and Valentino Rossi saw the top 6 rounded out by two Yamahas. The Spanish pairing of Alex Rins and Marc Marquez ended the session in seventh and eighth respectively.

Marquez, who topped the first practice session, lead for much of the second session as well before quickly slipping back down the timing sheets.

Franco Morbidelli and Takaaki Nakagami rounded out top ten, who were covered by just half a second.

Pol Espargaro took an unexpected trip through the gravel and ended the session 16th, with Miller also facing trouble as he suffered a low-side at turn 13.

It was another difficult session for Jorge Lorenzo as he continues to recover from his broken Scaphoid. He finished the session in 21st, ahead only of Hafizh Syahrin.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP.com


Posted on 29th March, 2019 for The Checkered Flag

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Devastating Fire Pushed Back the Inaugural MotoE Season to July

After a devastating fire ripped through the MotoE paddock before their first test was due to take place, the season opening races have been postponed.

The first two races, due to take place in Jerez (3-5 May) and Le Mans (17-19 May) have now been cancelled. The season opener will now be at Sachsenring on the 5-7 July with the season comprising of 6 rounds.

The second round will be at the Red Bull Ring in Austria before the circus moves to Misano for a double-header. The season will come to an end with a second double-header at Valencia.

The fire, which tore through the entire paddock before testing was able to take place, destroyed all 18 bikes. Thankfully, no one was injured.

After a thorough investigation, Dorna confirmed that the cause was identified as an “electrical short circuit in the charging station”. 

The manufacturer of the bikes, Energica, addressed fears by confirming that the bikes weren’t responsible for the fire.

“The tests we perform on our vehicles are inherited from the tests carried out on road vehicles throughout the years, which respect the safety standards for appropriate use, in every riding situation.”

“Not a single one of our clients has experienced an issue of this sort and in ten years of activity in the electric vehicle industry we have never had a single safety issue, not even in Jerez.

“We are therefore confident and not worried regarding the safety level of our vehicles, both on the road and on the track.”

Revised MotoE 2019 Calendar

Rounds Date Venue
1 July 5th – 7th Sachsenring, Germany
2 August 9th – 11th Red Bull Ring, Austria
3 & 4 September 13th – 15th Misano, Italy
5 & 6 November 15th – 17th Valencia, Spain

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP.com


Posted on 29th March, 2019 for The Checkered Flag

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