motorsportstalk

Getty Images

2006 MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden dies at 35

2 Comments

2006 MotoGP champion and American World Superbike Championship rider Nicky Hayden has died at the age of 35 from injuries sustained in a road accident last week.

Hayden was struck by a car while out cycling in the Rimini region of Italy, leaving him in a critical condition after suffering trauma to his chest and head, the latter resulting in serious brain damage.

On Monday, the Maurizio Bufalini Hospital in Cesena confirmed through a medical bulletin that Hayden had died as a result of his injuries.

“It is with great sadness that Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team has to announce that Nicky Hayden has succumbed to injuries suffered during an incident while riding his bicycle last Wednesday,” Hayden’s WSBK team said in a subsequent statement.

“Nicky passed away at 19:09 CEST this evening at Maurizio Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, Italy. His fiancée Jackie, mother Rose and brother Tommy were at his side.”

“On behalf of the whole Hayden family and Nicky’s fiancée Jackie I would like to thank everyone for their messages of support – it has been a great comfort to us all knowing that Nicky has touched so many people’s lives in such a positive way,” Tommy Hayden said.

“Although this is obviously a sad time, we would like everyone to remember Nicky at his happiest – riding a motorcycle.

“He dreamed as a kid of being a pro rider and not only achieved that but also managed to reach the pinnacle of his chosen sport in becoming World Champion. We are all so proud of that.

“Apart from these ‘public’ memories, we will also have many great and happy memories of Nicky at home in Kentucky, in the heart of the family. We will all miss him terribly.

“It is also important for us to thank all the hospital staff for their incredible support – they have been very kind. With the further support of the authorities in the coming days we hope to have Nicky home soon.”

Known as the ‘Kentucky Kid’, Hayden made his way up the American motorcycle racing ladder around the turn of the millennium, culminating with victory in the AMA Superbike championship in 2002.

Hayden moved into MotoGP, the world’s premier class of motorcycle racing, for 2003 with Honda, and finished his rookie season fifth in the championship.

Hayden scored his first win in 2005 before taking the championship one year later, picking up two victories on the way as he edged out Valentino Rossi in a final-race showdown.

Remaining with Honda until the end of 2008, Hayden then moved to Ducati where he spent five seasons, recording a best championship finish of seventh in 2010.

Hayden rekindled his partnership with Honda in 2014, racing with the satellite Aspar team for two seasons before then enjoying two one-off run-outs in 2016, a year in which he was focused on commitments in the World Superbike Championship.

Hayden took his first WSBK victory in Malaysia last year, finishing fifth in the final standings, and was 10 races into the 2017 campaign prior to the cycling accident.

Brown: McLaren still targeting top five in F1 pecking order this year

Getty Images
Leave a comment

McLaren executive director Zak Brown says the team is still aiming to better its performance from last year despite currently sitting last in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship after five races.

McLaren has been hamstrung by issues with the power unit supplied by Honda, which has lacked both reliability and performance so far this season following a redesign over the winter.

The team has seen the checkered flag just three times so far this season and is yet to finish on the lead lap, leaving it at the foot of the teams’ standings. It is also the only team not to score a point so far this season.

Speaking to the official F1 website, Brown said that even with its current problems, McLaren’s pre-season target remains unchanged as it looks to grow in strength ahead of 2018.

“We want to be better than we were in 2016; that remains. Whether that is in the final points tally, that will probably be difficult,” Brown said.

“But finishing the season and being more competitive than a sixth-place team, that is the goal and that has not changed.”

Brown admitted that he thought McLaren would be stronger this year than it has been, but remains confident that time can be made up through the remainder of the campaign.

” I thought we would have improved from 2016, which clearly we have not after the Barcelona race where things looked promising for a blink of an eye with Fernando [Alonso]’s grid position. But it didn’t work in the race.

“But I am optimistic that we will catch and pass our 2016 performance at the end of the year.”

Buemi dodges safety cars, FCY to take Paris Formula E win

FIA Formula E
Leave a comment

Sebastien Buemi kept his cool to dodge a number of possible pitfalls and win Saturday’s Paris ePrix, extending his lead at the top of the Formula E drivers’ championship in the process.

Buemi scored his second pole position of the season in qualifying, edging out home favorite Jean-Eric Vergne by just 0.006 seconds in the final Super Pole shootout.

The duo enjoyed a close battle at the front of the pack for the first half of the race, with Buemi’s two-second lead being wiped away by a Full Course Yellow called following a crash between title rival Lucas di Grassi and Antonio Felix da Costa for Andretti.

The FCY was near enough to the pit window that the majority of the pack came in and swapped cars early, with Vergne pushing to catch Buemi and cutting the gap to one second in the process once the race was back under green.

Vergne’s race came to an end before he could begin to think about a move on Buemi, with a technical failure on his Techeetah car sending him into the wall and sparking a safety car period.

Buemi’s lead of seven seconds over Lopez was eradicated by the safety car, but the defending series champion did not panic, pulling out a healthy buffer once the race got back underway.

Buemi’s advantage was given one final challenge when another safety car was called in the closing stages after di Grassi crashed when chasing the fastest lap. However, it ended up playing into his hands when race control announced that the checkered flag would be shown under the safety car.

The win was Buemi’s fifth in six races so far this season, and extends his Formula E championship lead to 43 points over di Grassi, who failed to score a single point after his late shunt and a penalty for not meeting the minimum pit stop time.

Lopez took second for DS Virgin Racing, marking the three-time WTCC champion’s best result in Formula E so far, while Nick Heidfeld completed the podium for Mahindra in third place.

Felix Rosenqvist followed close behind his team-mate to take P4 ahead of Nicolas Prost, who gained a position from Robin Frijns when the Dutchman received a five second time penalty. Frijns was eventually classified sixth.

Nelson Piquet Jr. finished the race seventh for NextEV NIO ahead of Tom Dillmann, who was eight on debut for Venturi. Mitch Evans scored Jaguar’s third points finish in Formula E in P9, while Stephane Sarrazin rounded out the top 10.

Hulkenberg upbeat about Renault’s Monaco GP chances

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nico Hulkenberg is optimistic about Renault’s chances in next weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix as he looks to extend his streak of points finishes in Formula 1.

Hulkenberg led Renault to its best result since returning to F1 with a full works program at the beginning of 2016, finishing sixth.

The German has scored points in each of the last three races, scoring all 14 of Renault’s points so far this season – six more than it scored through the entirety of last season.

Hulkenberg will bid to extend Renault’s points streak next weekend in Monaco, but expects the conditions at the street circuit to play to the strengths of the team and its R.S.17 car.

“The track should suit us, especially with the super-soft and ultrasoft tires. I am looking forward to race day and obviously I’m aiming for a good result,” Hulkenberg said.

“Last year I performed there quite well and with the new cars it will feel even quicker. You need a good rhythm and a good harmony with yourself and the car and feel comfortable.

“Lap times can be tricky to find, but in recent years I have done well, so hopefully we can have another strong performance.”

The Monaco Grand Prix is live across NBC, NBCSN and the NBC Sports app next weekend.

Buemi narrowly beats Vergne to Paris Formula E pole

FIA Formula E
Leave a comment

Sebastien Buemi will start Saturday’s FIA Formula E race in Paris from pole position after edging out home favorite Jean-Eric Vergne by just 0.006 seconds in the final stage of qualifying.

Buemi arrived in Paris with a 15-point lead at the top of the drivers’ championship following victory in Monaco last weekend, and sent out an early warning shot to his rivals by leading the opening qualifying heat.

Vergne finished second for Techeetah to advance to the Super Pole shootout, and was able to lay down an impressive marker that Buemi looked hard-pressed to beat.

The Swiss racer dug deep and produced a last-gasp lap of 1:02.319 to take pole for Renault e.dams by just 0.006 seconds, leaving Vergne a frustrated second.

Jose Maria Lopez took third on the grid for DS Virgin Racing, while Oliver Turvey qualified fourth, but will drop to 14th after a technical change ahead of the Paris race triggered a 10-place grid drop.

Esteban Gutierrez enjoyed his best Formula E qualifying performance to date, finishing fifth for Techeetah ahead of his third ePrix outing since moving out of Formula 1.

Mahindra drivers Nick Heidfeld and Felix Rosenqvist took sixth and seventh respectively ahead of Andretti’s Robin Frijns, while Mitch Evans and Nicolas Prost rounded out the top 10 on the grid.

Lucas di Grassi saw his title hopes take another hit as he could only qualify 14th, with Buemi now 18 points clear at the top of the championship after picking up a bonus score for pole.