ROME – US Superbike rider Nicky Hayden has died.
The former MotoGP world champ had been in “extremely critical” condition in hospital following a serious bicycle accident last Wednesday, which left him with brain damage.
The 35-year-old American was hit by a car while training south of the Italian seaside resort of Rimini and was rushed to hospital with severe chest and head injuries.
The Maurizio Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, where he was kept in ICU, released a statement last week saying he had “suffered a serious polytrauma with subsequent serious cerebral damage.”
Hayden, nicknamed the “Kentucky Kid”, won the 2006 MotoGP world title before moving to the Superbike World Championship for the 2016 season.
— mArv (@mArvWRC) May 22, 2017
His fiancée Jackie, kept a vigil by his side and was joined by Hayden’s brother Tommy and mother Rose who arrived in Italy from the United States last Thursday.
Hayden won just three grands prix in MotoGP — all in 2005-06 — but he famously took the world title that season after fighting it out with Valentino Rossi.
This has always been my favorite image of Nicky Hayden. Godspeed, Kentucky Kid. pic.twitter.com/xeiPQUlJm1
— Ryan McGee (@ESPNMcGee) May 22, 2017
Nine-time world champion Rossi took time out from preparing for this weekend’s French MotoGP at Le Mans to pay tribute to Hayden.
“Nicky is one of the best friends I have had in the paddock,” said the Italian, who lost the 2006 title to his friend by just five points.
“We were teammates in his rookie year in 2003, when he was a young guy making his debut in his first European experience.
“After a few years we fought for the title down to the last race in Valencia and, unfortunately for me, he won and became MotoGP world champion. After the race we shook hands and hugged.”
Rossi and Hayden later became teammates at Ducati.
Wednesday’s accident in Italy came just under a month after veteran Italian professional cyclist Michele Scarponi was killed after being hit by a van while out on a training ride on roads near his home.
— IMS Museum (@IMSMuseum) May 22, 2017
Nicky Hayden (1981-2017) – You will live forever in our hearts pic.twitter.com/X7cixlzYEg
— Pull&Bear (@pullandbear) May 22, 2017