Nicky Hayden snatched the MotoGP crown from the grasp of five-time champion Valentino Rossi following a dramatic final race in Valencia. Rossi led the standings by eight points before the race but saw his hopes end after sliding out on lap five. He got back on his Yamaha and finished 13th but American Hayden, 25, came home in third to take the title for Honda.
Hayden’s title chances looked over just a fortnight ago when he crashed out of the Portuguese MotoGP after being hit by team-mate Dani Pedrosa.
“I’m just real, really proud,” said an emotional Hayden after the race. You dream about being world champion and dedicate your whole life to it, so when it comes true it is very special. I may not always have been the fastest but every race I’ve tried my hardest.” Hayden enjoyed a 51-point advantage over Rossi, 27, in the standings after his victory in the US Grand Prix in Laguna Seca in July. But the Italian clawed his way back into contention before taking over the lead at Estoril following Hayden’s mishap.
Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo won the 250cc title riding for Fortuna Aprilia. Another Spaniard Alvaro Bautista on Master Aspar Aprilia won the 125 cc championship.