Nicky Hayden hopes his fifth place on home ground at Laguna Seca is the start of a turnaround in his fortunes after a difficult first half of 2009.
The American, who has struggled to acclimatize to Ducati's GP9, had his best race for the Italian squad yet as he qualified eighth in California and then battled through to fifth in the race, staying in touch with the leaders at first.
Afterwards he admitted that the result meant a great deal to him given his problems so far this year.
"I have won here twice and to say that fifth place feels just as good might sound strange but man, so much hard work has gone into getting us to this point and I want to savour this feeling," said Hayden. "To be racing at home, to score a solid result and to have had fun out there is nice."
Hayden is optimistic that he can keep improving on his Laguna performances in the coming races.
"We have made progress over the last two races, we have kept the faith and it has paid off with this fifth place," he said. "Hopefully we can keep it going and score even better results as the season progresses."
He also praised Ducati and the fans for keeping the faith in him even when he was a long way off the pace earlier in the year.
"I just want to say a huge 'thank you' to my whole team, to Ducati and to everybody who has continued to believe in me during some difficult times this season," said Hayden.