Nicky Hayden says he cannot wait to return to Mugello for the Italian Grand Prix as he looks to maintain his position as the top production Honda rider in the MotoGP field.

The American was an early casualty from the previous round at Le Mans, a DNF that has allowed both Drive M7 Aspar team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama and Scott Redding to close up on him in their battle for 'Open' class Honda honours.

Declaring Mugello as one of his favourite circuits, Hayden is looking forward to seeing how the Honda performs around the 'technical track'

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"Mugello is one of my favourite circuits, I love riding there and the races are always different - the atmosphere is incredible. The track itself is awesome, so are the fans, so overall it's one of the best races of the season. Mugello is a technical track, it's not easy at all, with a lot of blind corners and some bumps.

"I always have fun riding it though and I hope that continues this season. We will try to get the best out of our bike and tackle the circuit as best we can. I am looking forward to getting started and seeing how competitive we can be at Mugello.

"Hopefully we can have a good weekend and put the bad luck from the last race behind us. This is an incredible circuit so hopefully we can do a good job there for the team and the sponsors."

Hayden is currently the second-best placed Open rider in the overall standings, 14 points behind Aleix Espargaro. He is two and five points ahead of Aoyama and Redding respectively.