Nicky Hayden hopes his recent progress might result in an improved performance on home ground at Laguna Seca -- but the former champion was unwilling to predict a big upsurge in form this weekend.
Although Hayden, a double winner at Laguna in his Honda years, has struggled to get up to speed on the Ducati GP9, he has gained ground in recent races and was on course for a season-best sixth at Assen until a handlebar worked loose.
"Coming home doesn't mean we're going to be able to do a miracle," Hayden admitted. "But I really have slowly made a bit of a progress over the last few weeks and I'm trying to be positive and looking forward to the weekend.
"The Ducati obviously comes off the corners really good and does some things you need it to do around Laguna. In a few places maybe it could be a little bit more difficult, but nonetheless I'm here, I'm healthy and will just go for it and see what we can do, try to do something."
He said he was determined to keep his morale up and to keep working to match his teammate Casey Stoner.
"I can't say I've been having the time of my life, that's pretty obvious," said Hayden. "But sometimes that's how it goes. I don't want to say too much, it has been a hard season, but still it's a great life and I know I've got a great team and a lot of people here to support me, and I've been looking forward to Laguna."