Nicky Hayden believes his recent progress will continue in this weekend's German Grand Prix after being encouraged by his performance in Friday practice at the Sachsenring.
Following a tough start to his first season with Ducati, Hayden has got closer to the pace recently and finished fifth in the last race at Laguna Seca. He was eighth at the end of today's practice session, but had held the top spot on several occasions when the track was damp. The American said he was pleased to be able to work in a more methodical manner now he was getting comfortable with the GP9.
"It is nice to be able to come to a track and not have to be trying something radical with the setup on the first day and today we started out with pretty much the settings from Laguna, making a few changes as the session went on," said Hayden. "Having said that, we are trying a new handlebar here, which isn't normally the kind of thing you do at this stage of the season, but we have changed a lot on the back of the bike, so we just needed to compensate a little at the front.
"Up to now we've been using data from [teammate] Casey [Stoner] or previous riders to find a base setup on a Friday but now hopefully we can work from my own data on a consistent basis."
He reckons his wet form bodes well considering the mixed forecast for the rest of the weekend.
"My final position today isn't too great but early in the session we were going really well, especially in the wet," Hayden said. "We were on top for a long time and in this paddock if you're P1 in the wet, dry or intermediate you have to be riding well and be comfortable with the bike."
But he admitted to slight concern at the way he was elbowed down the order on a completely dry track at the end.
"I think I was third up until the last couple of laps, which has been a problem for us all season – when I try to really dig in we don't seem able to go any faster and it's an area we still need to address in order to improve qualifying in particular," he said. "We've started well so we'll see where we go from here."