Nicky Hayden apologized to Ducati for starting the Japanese Grand Prix weekend on the back foot, having never really recovered from a crash in Friday practice.
While Hayden's teammate Casey Stoner took a second straight victory, the American qualified only 11th, and finished 12th after an early trip off the road.
"I have to apologize to the team because I crashed on Friday which got us behind and even though they worked hard all weekend we haven't found the traction I needed to be competitive today," said Hayden. "Luckily we don't have to wait too long to put it behind us in Malaysia."
He went off in company with Tech 3 Yamaha's Ben Spies on lap two, but Hayden confirmed that their simultaneous arrival in the gravel was a coincidence rather than the result of contact.
"Maybe I got a little too excited because I made a mistake into Turn 5 on the second lap, got in there too hot and a few of us ran pretty deep," Hayden explained. "Spies went off in front of me and I followed him into the gravel. We touched coming back onto the track and then there was a big kerb that I had to avoid so I lost a lot of time there."
Spies said he had gone off initially avoiding Loris Capirossi's Suzuki.
"Going into Turn 5 I think Loris was in front of me and it seemed like he braked really, really early," said Spies. "To avoid hitting him I had to move over and get on the kerb and run off track."
The American recovered to finish eighth, a result that surprised him as he had been a long way off the pace in the morning warm-up.
"After my pace in the warm-up I was wondering how I would be able to fight with anybody but I made some passes and I never gave up," he said. "I rode as hard as I could and while it wasn't my best result it was still a really good race."