Nicky Hayden looked like a potential podium contender during the middle stages of Sunday's wet French MotoGP.
But Hayden, whose best race lap was quicker than both Ducati team-mate Andrea Dovizioso and eventual podium finisher Marc Marquez, was forced wide when Valentino Rossi fell from fourth, while a later mistake ended any chance of reeling in the rostrum finishers.
Hayden crossed the line in fifth, one place and eight seconds behind Dovizioso.
“I got a great start and picked up some positions in the first few corners,” recalled Hayden. “I didn't feel great at first, but I began to improve and was closing on the lead group when they were battling with each other. I really enjoyed that, especially when the track was pretty wet. Things got more difficult as it dried, but I was hanging in there.
“I was looking for a way past Rossi, and when he crashed, I picked it up and ran wide. I put my head down and tried to close the gap, but I made a mistake, and after Marquez got by, I just tried to stay up and get to the finish.
“Top-five is our best result of the season, but for a while, I thought I had a possibility to do something really good. Still, there were moments this weekend when we showed more potential than we have all year, and I'm really looking forward to Mugello.”