Nicky Hayden interview ... The Kentucky Thunder !
Not many counted on him at the start of the season, but the fastest North American rider of the latest years is leading the overall standings on his arrival at his home Grand Prix in Laguna Seca.
It must be a great to be World Championship coming to the U.S. Grand Prix?
Nicky Hayden: You know, it's definitely quite a proud feeling to be leading the World Championship going into my home Grand Prix. I know it's only just over half way through the year, and the most important thing is to be leading at the end of the season, but a lot of people didn't expect me to be in this position. I'd say I was considered a pretty big underdog at the start of the season and, even after the first few races when I started leading the championship, I think everyone thought it was just a fluke. But now they're starting to see that the team is for real and that we're serious this year.
How did it feel to win at Laguna Seca last year?
NH: To win my home race last year, which was the first time I'd raced in a Grand Prix at home, was the best day of my life. Sure I'd won races before, but nothing of that magnitude. I'd had some good results in MotoGP for example I was the Rookie of the Year in my first season. But to stand on the podium and hear my National Anthem in front of my home fans was really emotional for me a great feeling.
With the championship lead will it feel slightly different this year?
NH: I had so much fun at this race last year. Just riding the bike was fun because it was running real well, but also just being around my family, my friends and all my boys from Kentucky. I had a great time, so I'm really looking forward to it. But it's going to be serious business on raceday.
I want to go get another win for the fans, and yes, it's even bigger this year because of the position in the championship. This year I'm a serious contender and I need those 25 points for the win.
Are you a big star in America?
NH: In America MotoGP is not as well known and there are other sports that are so much bigger. It's certainly not as big here as in Europe and other places around the world where they go bananas for MotoGP. There were well over 200,000 people at the last race in Germany, but after being around some of these crazy places in Europe I actually enjoy coming home and just blending in with the locals because, you know, I'm not into this sport to be a rock star. I wouldn't really say I'm a shy person but I do like to go home and work on my game, work on my training and get stronger so I can put up a better fight. My profile in America is increasing though, and that's probably good for the sport. I think it's going to get bigger in America in the future, and Laguna this weekend is going to be pretty wild for sure.
You'll have your family around at Laguna and we often see your dad at the races. Does this help you?
NH: Yeah I've been really lucky with the support I get from my family. It's important to have good, strong people around you and my dad's a part of my racing team. This year I've been doing well and of course it's quite easy to start making friends now. The phone starts ringing again and people want to catch up or say they need some passes for the race. But I've been lucky to have a good support team, and also Honda's been really behind me from my early days in America. Having those people that believe in you helps you get the best from yourself.
Have you always wanted to ride in Grands Prix?
NH: Me and my brothers went to the US GP in 1994 I think it was the last time the race was held there before it was reinstated last year. I was a little kid and we stood on the fence, and to see these bikes made me realise even more than before this was what I wanted to do. I didn't want to be a quarter back or a Nascar driver, even though I'm from Kentucky. I wanted to race in Grand Prix.
So, will you win your home GP?
NH: Well we did it last year and we're going to bring all we've got!