Nicky Hayden will start the US Grand Prix from the front of the grid after setting his first ever MotoGP pole position, in front of his home fans, during a sell-out qualifying session at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The Honda rider, fastest on Friday, dominated the morning free practice and set a scorching pace throughout the afternoon before knocking over a second off his best time with a stunning late lap of 1min 22.670secs to secure pole ahead of world champion Valentino Rossi - it was a moment Hayden has waited almost two and a half years for.

"It's a great feeling after all these years to be first when it counts," admitted Nicky. "It's been a frustrating couple of years for me because I was used to being on pole and winning races before I arrived in MotoGP and since then it hasn't happened.

"The weekend just keeps getting better and better and it's great to give my people something to cheer about, I just hope it keeps going that way tomorrow. The whole team has done a great job and the bike feels so good. I'm not really worried about the race - I just want to enjoy it," he claimed.

Hayden's efforts left the rest of the field reeling, with Rossi the only rider able to get close in the final stages, but still some 0.354 seconds adrift of the 2003 MotoGP Rookie of the Year.

But the question now being asked is, can Hayden go 32 laps with the supreme racing talent that is Valentino Rossi in tomorrow's race and claim what would be a dream first MotoGP victory?

From his performance over the past two days, and Rossi's self confessed lack of comfort and experience around the Laguna Seca circuit, just maybe he can...