MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden in critical condition after road accident

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2006 MotoGP world champion and current World Superbikes Championship rider Nicky Hayden is reportedly in critical condition following a road accident on Wednesday in Italy.

Hayden, 34, was out training on his bicycle in the Rimini province when he was struck by a car, leaving him with chest and head trauma.

According to a report from Rimini Today, Hayden was treated on-site and stabilized before being transferred to the local hospital, Ospedale Infermi Rimini, where he remains in a critical condition. The official World Superbike website also added that emergency services were called to the scene before his being transported to hospital.

His Honda Superbike team provided an official update within the hour.

Known as ‘The Kentucky Kid’, Hayden is America’s most recent MotoGP world champion, claiming the title in 2006 with Honda.

Hayden also raced for Ducati before moving into WSBK last year, claiming one race win for Honda en route to fifth place in the riders’ championship.

UPDATE, 2:15 p.m. ET: The official MotoGP Twitter account released an update as of 8 p.m. CET that Hayden was transported to the Cesena hospital for further treatment and possible surgery.

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

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Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”