After almost a month to dwell on his second opening-lap elimination of the season, at Misano, Nicky Hayden is 'excited' to get back into action at Estoril this weekend.
Hayden, who will be joined by a returning Casey Stoner in the Ducati Marlboro pits, starts the final four rounds of the season just 14th in the championship, but within 15 points of eighth.
“A few weeks off is always nice but I'm definitely over it now and ready to get back to the track and on the bike,” said the Kentuckian. “I haven't really been up to anything exciting over the break, just training and hanging out getting prepared for the final stretch of the season. Any time we get a few weeks at home is like gold when you travel like we do.
“I am very excited for Portugal - we go there feeling pretty positive after finding some decent speed over the last few races. We go there at a different time in the season from last year so it has been almost a year and half since we've been to the track, which makes it a little difficult.
“The track is nothing real special but I like it. It's pretty narrow, with probably the tightest and slowest chicane on the whole calendar, but has a great fifth gear kink on the back straightaway and the final turn is a very long, cool corner.
“Also we will have Casey back which is great for the team and the championship and I'm sure he will be as fast as ever. Getting on that front row or podium just got even harder for me!” he admitted.
“I really hope Nicky's luck turns around after Misano because his season has got gradually better and I'm sure he'll keep that trend going this weekend,” added Ducati MotoGP project director Livio Suppo.
Hayden's best finish so far this season is third at Indianapolis.