2016 WorldSBK ‘rookie’, Nicky Hayden took his first win of his WSBK career onboard his Honda CBR 1000RR Sepang, Malaysia in a ‘Wet Race’.
Hayden had been impressive throughout the weekend, starting with Free Practice all the way to qualifying, where he qualified 4th on the grid. In Race 1 (which is now held on Saturday), he started off strong, and was racing behind the podium contenders, before he started moving backwards with tyre troubles and eventually finished 8th.
Race 2 was a different kettle of fish. The torrential rain in Malaysia, saw the WorldSupersport race being postponed twice, before it was finally held after the WSBK race, instead of prior to it. The rain played a major role in the WSBK Race as well, with the grid lined up on a wet track.
The ‘Kentucky Kid’ got off the blocks and was fast straight away. Immediately pulling open a gap to Championship leader Jonathan Rea, Tom Sykes, Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano. After setting the fastest lap of the race, Hayden had pulled out a 4 second lead to Rea on the Kawasaki. But Italian Giugliano, also chasing his maiden win, had other plans. He started setting fastest race laps and overtook his teammate Davies before overhauling Rea as well. Davies briefly took Rea, only to be re-passed by the British rider.
Giugliano was steadily closing the gap to Hayden, but the American kept calm and crossed the line 1 second ahead of the Ducati rider, with Rea taking the final spot on the podium and extending his lead over Davies and Sykes.
It was a well deserved victory for Hayden, who got back onto the top spot of the podium after a gap of 10 years. The joy of the American rider was unbounded as he couldn’t help but cry as he relished his victory, which he dedicated to his father.
With this win, Hayden has joined Mighty Mick Doohan in being the only other rider to have won a race in Grand Prix as well as WSBK.
Before the season opener at Phillip Island, xBhp had spoken with No. 69 Nicky Hayden about his expectations from WSBK in 2016. Read his interview here.
Photos Courtesy: WorldSBK.com