Nicky Hayden will make his final Italian appearance as a home factory Ducati MotoGP rider in this weekend's Misano round, just down the road from the manufacturer's Bologna headquarters.
“Misano will be a bit bittersweet this year, as it's my last GP in Italy for the Ducati Team,” said Hayden.
“I can't say I exactly love the track as I haven't had great results there, but the atmosphere is great. It's quite a difficult track because it's pretty bumpy with average grip.
“We had a test there a couple months back, and maybe we can start the weekend off closer to the rest.”
The 2006 world champion, to be replaced by Cal Crutchlow next season, is currently weighing up offers in both MotoGP and WSBK - and recently tested a Ducati superbike.
While Hayden's time at the team is coming to a close, Andrea Dovizioso will be taking part in only his second home event in 'red'.
Dovizioso was born in nearby Forlimpopoli and, like Hayden, hopes to exploit information gathered in the private test.
“We did a couple of days of testing there one month ago so we should be able to start with a good base and I think we can make a good race there,” said the Italian. “Misano is quite a slow circuit for the MotoGP bikes, but I like this track because it's special for me. I made my first race there after moving up from minibikes, it went in a different direction than now, but for me Misano is always Misano!”
Dovizioso and Hayden are presently eighth and ninth in the championship, with a best race finish of fourth and fifth receptively. Ducati claimed a podium at Misano last season with second place for Valentino Rossi.
“Misano is the second of our home races and is very important to us. It's also one of our three test tracks; we've already done some tests there this year, so our riders know the circuit well,” commented team manager Vittoriano Guareschi.
“We were able to try some things with the setup, and we hope that work will give us the advantage that it did last year, when we had our best race of the year in dry conditions.
“We know our bike performs decently there, and our riders will certainly be very motivated by the fact that it's our home race - particularly Andrea, who lives quite close to the track.”
Hayden hopes to try the latest version of the Desmosedici GP13, as already used by Dovizioso, during Monday's official post-race test.