Nicky Hayden said he was extremely happy to take a season-best eighth on the grid in qualifying for his home race at Laguna Seca -- especially as he had languished a long way down the order in practice.
The American has struggled to get to grips with the Ducati all year, and although he had made progress in recent events, his lowly 14th place on the Friday timesheets suggested that Laguna could be an embarrassing weekend for the man who won the race in 2005 and 2006. But instead he staged a recovery in qualifying to claim eighth.
"I'm happy with that," said Hayden. "I know eighth place is nothing to write home about but it's a big result for us and I'm relieved after yesterday. The data guys did a good job and we made a good step with the mapping this morning that allowed me to come off the corners a lot better.
"I had a crash at the end of free practice that set us back a little bit but we got it together for qualifying this afternoon and at the end there it looked like I might steal P6, which I would have been real happy with. We slipped back to eighth but considering that we usually lose positions from free practice to qualifying, to make some up today is pleasing."
Hayden's Laguna qualifying result comfortably beats his previous best starting position of 2009 -- 12th at Motegi - and comes shortly after he took his best finish on a Ducati with eighth at Assen a week ago.