After matching his best dry qualifying performance of the season so far, Nicky Hayden is turning his attention to staying out of trouble in the opening turns of Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix at Misano.
Hayden was the second fastest rider on track in the first and final sections of the circuit but, as on Friday, struggled with the fast right-hander in T3.
However, on his penultimate lap the American shaved two tenths off his previous best through that sector alone to improve his overall best time by three tenths and move up to the second row for the second successive race.
“This morning I had a really good feeling with the bike and put together a good rhythm – I was fastest in T4 and that's the first time this year I've been fastest at anything in the dry!” began Hayden, who took his first podium of the season from sixth on the grid last Sunday at Indianapolis.
“I'd hoped to improve and do my best dry qualifying of the year this afternoon but to begin with the track was a little warmer and I didn't get that same level of feeling, so we had to make some tweaks to the set-up.
“Like I say, I'd hoped to do better than what I did but we got on the second row and our focus turns to tomorrow.”
Hayden, who announced a contract extension with Ducati on Thursday, is now aiming to avoid any trouble at the start of the race.
“I need to get a great start because those first two or three turns are going to be harsh – everybody will be fighting for positions and there's a good chance of some drama there!” he said.
“We want to get through that cleanly and as high up the order as possible in the early stages. From there it's a case of giving my maximum for all the Italian fans and trying to put their bike up front.”
Team-mate Mika Kallio will make his third and final scheduled start as a factory rider this season from eleventh on the grid - and with front end confidence still a big issue.
"We've tried many things this weekend to try and get a better feeling with the front but we're still not getting the feedback we would like and we're struggling to work out why that is,” said the young Finn, who will switch back to the Pramac team when Casey Stoner returns to action.
“Now we need to think carefully about what we try in the morning because confidence is a big issue and if we go completely in the wrong direction it can be damaging. We'll make some small modifications that I hope can be enough to help me push more and get more out of the bike in the race.”
Kallio has taken a best finish of eighth with both the satellite and factory bike so far during his rookie season.