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MotoGP have officially retired the number “69” in memory of the late 2006 World Champion, Nicky Hayden.

Hayden lost his life on the 22nd May 2016 after suffering a tragic bicycle crash near Misano, Italy, a few days beforehand. The American, also most commonly known as “the Kentucky Kid”, was loved and respected by many people on and off the track in all forms of motorcycle racing and therefore the decision was made to retire the number on the Friday of the Grand Prix of the Americas.

Dorna CEO, Carmelo Ezpeleta, was joined by FIM President Jorge Viegas and Nicky’s family and friends in the press conference when the ceremony took place, with Hayden’s father, Earl, and brother, Tommy, up on stage.

“Since the beginning, after we lost him, we thought it’s something we must do,” Ezpeleta explained. “Nicky was something special for all of us, his behaviour really was 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 father, Earl, received the commemoration as Ezpeleta and Viegas handed over the #69 on the Friday afternoon. Later on that day, the paddock and marshals joined the Hayden family at Hayden hill to honour the 2006 World Champion at turn 18.

On Sunday before the MotoGP race, Nicky’s winning bike will be at the front of the grid as a fitting tribute to Hayden two years on.