Having claimed a season best fifth place last time out at his home US Grand Prix, Nicky Hayden's next goal is to try and bridge the sizable gap to the podium places.
Hayden has made steady progress up the results ever since his DNF at round two in Japan, when he was hit from behind by Yuki Takahashi, claiming 15th, 12th, 12th, 10th, 8th and 5th in the events since.
“We have made some real progress the last few weeks and I hope we can keep it going because bringing up the rear of the pack is not fun,” said Hayden ahead of this weekend's German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring.
“We still have a big gap to the front guys so we have a lot of work to do to close that down and we must stay very focused.”
So how big is that gap?
In terms of the time difference between Hayden and third place, the #69's best race was at Assen, when he crossed the finish line 16.71sec behind Ducati Marlboro team-mate Casey Stoner.
Although three places higher at the following US GP, Hayden was 19.737sec away from Jorge Lorenzo and a podium (see full list below).
Meanwhile, Hayden has an encourgaing record at the Sachsenring, having finished third in 2005, 2006 and 2007 as a Repsol Honda rider.
“Germany is another small, twisty track with lap times almost exactly the same as Laguna - in fact they are the two shortest tracks on the tour - but it's a track I like and where I have gone well at in the past,” said the American.
“The first section is super tight and is the part I think will be the hardest for me on our bike, but I hope to be strong in the second half, which includes the 'waterfall' corner, which is about as good as it gets if you like fast, blind corners that take your breath away!” he added
“Nicky again rides at a circuit where he has always gone well at in the past and I'm sure he will be able to confirm that the improvement made at Laguna is only the start,” insisted Ducati MotoGP project manager Livio Suppo.
Time difference - Nicky Hayden to 3rd:
Hayden 12th - Lorenzo 3rd (32.639sec)
Hayden 15th - Stoner 3rd (50.730sec)
4. Le Mans:
Hayden 12th - Pedrosa 3rd (36.754sec)*
Hayden 12th - Rossi 3rd (37.046sec)*
Hayden 10th - Stoner 3rd (24.709sec)
Hayden 8th - Stoner 3rd (16.71sec)
8. Laguna Seca:
Hayden 5th - Lorenzo 3rd (19.737sec)
* wet/dry race