Three-time AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes has been named the 2012 Cycle News Rider of the Year. The award, given annually by the weekly motorcycle publication that is generally regarded as the industry bible, was well-deserved: Hayes won a remarkable 16 of 20 AMA Superbike races this season.
The 37-year-old native of Gulfport, Mississippi, earned the title by 154 points over his nearest rival during a season in which he set numerous records. Hayes tied a mark set previously by Mat Mladin with his 10 pole positions in 11 tries, and set a new high-water mark when he won a record 10 races in a row at one point during the season. Hayes was practically unbeatable on his Monster Energy-backed Graves Yamaha R1 en route to his third successive AMA Superbike crown.
Cycle News awarded Rider of the Year honors annually in the 1970s and early ’80s and the award was rekindled in 1992 when Wayne Rainey won his third 500cc World Championship. It has been given annually ever since. “I’ve been on covers of magazines before, but being named as Cycle News Rider of the Year means I’ve truly been recognized for my efforts,” Hayes said from his off-season home in Oceanside, California, after being told of the award.
Though never a simple decision, Cycle News Editor Paul Carruthers said choosing Hayes as Cycle News Rider of the Year was one of the easier selections.
“I don’t want to say it was a slamdunk, but Josh had a remarkable season and that made it easier on us,” Carruthers said. “He was fast and he hardly put a wheel wrong. In fact, he seems to be getting faster with age so we fully expect him to challenge for the title for a fourth time in 2013.”