Having just scrapped into the top ten during free practice home star Nicky Hayden produced his best performance of the Indianapolis weekend with sixth place in qualifying, to lead the Ducati challenge.

The 2006 world champion lapped 1.1s from Honda pole sitter Marc Marquez, but over 0.4s quicker than team-mate and next best Desmosedici rider Andrea Dovizioso.

"Our goal was not sixth position, but realistically, with our package right now, that was about as much as we could hope for," he said. "Squeezing on the second row is certainly not too bad. By far, that was the best lap I was able to get in this weekend.

Related Articles

"We got a couple good ideas for the race. We definitely want to try to smooth it out over the bumps and try to change directions a little bit better. We probably aren't going to make huge changes, being that was the best that I've went all weekend. But we'll try a couple little tweaks."

Also enjoying a qualifying boost was countryman Colin Edwards, who made it through to Q2 for the first time on his way to twelfth on the grid, as the top CRT rider. "It was good for all of the fans here and good for Colin - he deserved it. I was happy to see it," said Hayden.

By contrast, American Ben Spies was forced to abandon his MotoGP comeback due to a dislocated shoulder.

"Well, that's racing. I hate it. Even though we are all competitors, we still don't like seeing guys getting hurt," said Hayden of his fellow Ducati rider. "You hate to see it. It's a shame for everybody - for Ducati, the fans, for Ben. Hopefully he's back soon. Luckily, it wasn't worse than it was."

Hayden will be making his final Indianapolis appearances as a factory Ducati MotoGP rider on Sunday, having lost his seat to Cal Crutchlow for 2014. Hayden is yet to confirm his plans, but is considering a Production Honda, with LCR expressing interest in running the former Repsol Honda star.