Nicky Hayden's #69 retired from MotoGP

'Nicky is one of those who will stay in our hearts forever'
Nicky Hayden's #69 retired from MotoGP

"The #69 used by 2006 world champion Nicky Hayden was officially retired from MotoGP on Friday at the Grand Prix of the Americas.

Hayden's family and friends were joined by FIM President Jorge Viegas and Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta during a ceremony held in the COTA Media Center.

"Since the beginning, after we lost him, we thought it's something we must do," Ezpeleta said. "Nicky was something special for all us, his behavior was really fantastic. We talked with the FIM and for us to retire the #69 forever is something important and we are very proud to do it. It's a great honour for our championship to have Nicky as part of our history."

Nicky's brother Tommy said: "Thanks to everyone that has joined us here. Nicky loved MotoGP for a reason, because there's a lot of good people there, starting at the top.

"Nicky had a lot of success on track, but I think we all agree he made just as big an impact off the track and everyone's lives - whether friends, family or fans. That's something we are most proud of.

"The #69 is a special number in my family. My Dad raced with that number, then other family members, my sister, my brother Roger, myself in our childhood years. Nicky carried the number through his career, so it has a lot of meaning and to have it retired from MotoGP, the pinnacle of the sport, means a lot to us.

"Thanks to everyone for helping to keep Nicky's legacy alive."

Viegas said: "When Dorna proposed to withdraw this magic number we didn't hesitate because there are some riders that - regardless of the number of titles - mean something special. We all have this disease of loving motorcycle racing and some will remain in our hearts forever. Nicky is one of them."

Nicky's father Earl then joined Ezpeleta and Viegas for the handing over of the #69.

Later today, the MotoGP paddock will join Hayden's family, friends and track marshals at the Turn 18 'Hayden Hill' grass berm, where the American's 2006 Championship-winning Repsol Honda will be on display.

That bike will then be on display at the front of the grid before Sunday's race.

Hayden took three wins and 28 podiums as a full-time MotoGP rider between 2003-2015, adding a World Superbike victory in 2016 before his tragic death while training on a bicycle near Misano in 2017.