Former MotoGP world champion Hayden 'extremely critical'

Rome - Former world motorcycling champion Nicky Hayden was in "extremely critical" condition on Thursday (May 18) following a serious bicycle accident which left him with brain damage, as his fiance and mother kept a vigil at his bedside.

The 35-year-old American was hit by a car while training south of the Italian seaside resort of Rimini on Wednesday and was rushed to hospital with severe chest and head injuries.

Cerebral damage

A statement from the Maurizio Bufalini Hospital in Cesena said: "Nicky Hayden's clinical condition remains extremely critical. The young man, who is still in the intensive care unit of Cesena's Bufalini Hospital, has suffered a serious polytrauma with subsequent serious cerebral damage."

Hayden, nicknamed the "Kentucky Kid", won the 2006 MotoGP world title before moving to the Superbike World Championship for the 2016 season.

His Honda team said that as well as having his fiance Jackie by his side, Hayden has now been joined by his brother Tommy and mother Rose who arrived in Italy from the United States earlier Thursday.

Hayden won just three grands prix in MotoGP, all in 2005-06, but he famously took the world title that season after fighting it out with Valentino Rossi.

2006 MotoGP champion

Nine-time world champion Rossi took time out from preparing for this weekend's French MotoGP at Le Mans to pay tribute to Hayden.

Rossi said: "Nicky is one of the best friends I have had in the paddock." The Italian lost the 2006 title to his friend by just five points.

The Yamaha rider said: "We were teammates in his rookie year in 2003, when he was a young guy making his debut in his first European experience.

"After a few years we fought for the title down to the last race in Valencia and, unfortunately for me, he won and became MotoGP world champion. After the race we shook hands and hugged."

Rossi and Hayden later became teammates at Ducati.