Nicky Hayden will start a Ducati best eighth for his home US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca, after lapping 0.862sec behind Jorge Lorenzo in Saturday's qualifying session.
“I'm happy with that,” said the double US GP winner. “I know eighth place is nothing to write home about but it's a big result for us and I'm relieved after yesterday. The data guys did a good job and we made a good step with the mapping this morning that allowed me to come off the corners a lot better.
“I had a crash at the end of free practice that set us back a little bit but we got it together for qualifying this afternoon and at the end there it looked like I might steal P6, which I would have been real happy with. We slipped back to eighth but considering that we usually lose positions from free practice to qualifying, to make some up today is pleasing.”
Hayden was concerned at the number of accidents seen during qualifying, which included big end-of-session falls for Lorenzo and Hayden's team-mate Casey Stoner.
“It got pretty gnarly at the end of the session there, a lot of guys were crashing and there were yellow flags everywhere,” he said. “People thought getting rid of qualifying tyres would make things safer but when grid positions are as important as they are at a circuit like this you're going to have guys hanging it out for a fast lap on a race tyre, and that ain't so safe!”