Roger Lee Hayden
As one third of a motorcycling ‘dynasty’, Roger Lee is arguably the least prominent of the Haydens, at least compared to siblings Nicky and Tommy.
Nonetheless, Roger Lee will use the 2010 season to make his name known in its own right after agreeing to join the World Superbike Championship with a privateer Kawasaki team.
A surprise move for the 26-year-old, given the number of AMA-loyal riders choosing to stay in the United States, Hayden brings with him some respectable success on the domestic scene.
Making his AMA Pro Racing debut in 1998, it wasn’t until 2004 than Hayden began to make headlines after finishing runner-up in the Supersport series. His effort was made all the more newsworthy by the fact was beaten to the title by older brother Tommy.
It was an identical story in 2005, with Tommy edging Roger Lee, but it did enough to convince Kawasaki to promote him to their all-new Superbike effort in 2006.
With factory backing, Hayden managed five top ten finishes over the course of the season, but saw much of it disrupted by an injury, leaving him a lowly 17th in the standings. Nonetheless, he was still nominated for the coveted prize of ‘rookie of the year’, a title he duly picked up.
Re-signed by Kawasaki to participate in the Superbike and Supersport categories in 2007, Hayden enjoyed success in both series’, but particularly the latter when he fought off Jamie Hacking and Josh Hayes to claim the title. He performed well in Superbikes too, ending the year 10th overall.
Hayden’s most memorable moment of 2007, however, came with a wild-card outing on the MotoGP-spec Kawasaki Ninja during the United States Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. Riding alongside Randy de Puniet and Anthony West, Hayden performed well on his debut to finish race in tenth position and as the leading American representative, his title-winning brother Nicky having retired on the first lap.
Focusing on AMA Superbikes in 2008, Hayden endured a season ravaged by injury, including a horrific accident at Barber Motorsports Park that forced him to have a finger amputated. The ailment also prevented him from getting the chance to ride in MotoGP for a second time and destroyed his chances of finishing any higher than 22nd in Superbikes.
Still backed by Monster Kawasaki heading into the 2009 season, Hayden participated in the AMA Daytona Sportbike series, but had mixed results. Finishing on the podium twice, Hayden couldn’t string a consistent run of results together, leaving him a disappointing 12th by the end of the season.
Despite this, Hayden has secured a ticket out of AMA to try his hand at competing in Superbikes on the international stage. Sticking with Kawasaki yet again, Hayden faces a challenge in joining the Italian Pedercini team, but remains confident his affinity with the ZX-10R will aid his cause.
The first American to commit to World Superbikes since Ben Spies’ decision to defect to MotoGP, while it is unlikely Hayden will emulate his countryman, he remains a welcome addition to the cosmopolitan series. Career Highlights:2010:
World Superbike Championship, Pedercini Kawasaki, 19th2009:
AMA Daytona Sportbike, Kawasaki, 12th2008:
AMA Superbike Championship, Kawasaki, 22nd2007:
AMA Superbike Championship, Kawasaki, 10th
AMA Supersport Championship, Kawasaki, Champion
MotoGP World Championship (one race), Kawasaki, 20th2006:
AMA Superbike Championship, Kawasaki, 17th2005:
AMA Supersport Championship, 2nd2004:
AMA Supersport Championship, 2nd