Nicky Hayden found himself closing rapidly on former Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa in the closing stages of Monday night's Qatar Grand Prix.
Both riders, who experienced a 'frosty' relationship at Honda, were carrying significant injuries - Pedrosa from recent knee and foreman surgery and Hayden from a huge qualifying highside - and the battle in question was only for eleventh position.
Nevertheless, Hayden admitted it would have been nice to beat the Spaniard on his Ducati debut, after crossing the finish line just 0.357sec from the #3.
“It's been a tough weekend and we've had a lot of issues - obviously a 130mph high-side doesn't help things but nothing really went smooth,” said Hayden. “In the beginning of the race I was quite slow, I didn't get a great start but actually as the fuel load changed and I got a better feeling I got faster and faster and the last five or six laps were my fastest of the whole weekend.
“It would have been nice to nick Dani at the end there but I think the team have showed that even though a lot of stuff has gone against us this weekend we're not going to give up. Hopefully the bad stuff is behind us now and Casey has shown the potential of the bike, so crazy as it sounds I'm leaving here in a really positive mood and looking forward to Motegi.”
Hayden's team-mate Casey Stoner took victory on Monday, with Pedrosa's new team-mate Andrea Dovizioso fifth.