Nicky Hayden is hoping he can give Ducati and its fans a welcome result on home soil at Mugello after almost securing a front row start for the Italian Grand Prix.
The American came into the qualifying session looking to get into the 1min 47secs bracket and crack the top five, an endeavour he completed with a lap of 1min 47.671secs and a starting position of fourth.
Just edged off the front row by satellite GP12 counterpart Hector Barbera, Hayden was nonetheless satisfied to be at the sharp end of the grid, not least because he feels he has a package that is working well on the harder tyres.
"That was exciting. I don't think anyone left anything on the table today, which is the way that qualifying should be. My goal was to be in the 47s and in the top five, and we accomplished that, which is good. On the other hand, to be so close to the front row here at Mugello makes me wish for just that little bit more.
"Still, fourth on the grid isn't a bad starting spot here at Mugello. We picked up a couple of things today, and we've steadily made the bike a bit better. Compared to yesterday, I was quite a bit quicker with the hard tyre this afternoon.
"It's going to be an extremely hard race, because at these temperatures, tyre wear could be difficult. Anyway, I'm really looking forward to the race tomorrow. Hopefully I can do a good result that this team, these fans and I can all be proud of. I'm expecting a wild one tomorrow.”