MCN's WSBK rider of the year: 4th Nicky Hayden

Published: 20 December 2016

MCN’s Sports Desk rank the five riders who have impressed them most in the World Superbike Championship during the 2017 season.

4th – Nicky Hayden

  • Best result: 1st
  • Wins: 1
  • Podiums: 4
  • Championship position: 5th

It’s hard to stress just how much 2016 was a learning year for former MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden despite the American’s prodigious experience not only in racing in general but in superbikes in particular – but despite that, he made sure that he made his mark on his debut season in the World Superbike season by becoming the only rider not on a Ducati or Kawasaki to win a race.

Learning a whole new bike, radically different tyres, new tracks and a new way of working, Hayden also had an out of date Fireblade to contend with, meaning that this season was always going to be something of a holding pattern as he awaited the arrival of the new Fireblade in 2017.

But despite that, he made the most of the situation, taking victory in Malaysia and standing on the podium in front of a home crowd at Laguna Seca to finish the season happy with his efforts and ready to step up a level in 2017.

And that step should be aided by a whole new Blade for him. A key part of the development process of the new machine and with a special SP2 edition built just for racing, he’ll be looking to prove that on the right machinery he can win every weekend and not just now and again.