Hayden hopes for Mugello progress

Nicky Hayden is desperate to improve his form at this week's Italian Grand Prix so that the home crowd does not have to see a Ducati in the midfield

Hayden hopes for Mugello progress

The former world champion has made gradual progress with acclimatising to the Ducati GP9 after joining from Honda this year, but has been hampered by the repeated weather interruptions in practice sessions and a heavy accident in Qatar.

Hayden, who has yet to qualify or finish in the top ten this year, said he had been looking forward to racing a Ducati in Italy for the first time, but did not like the thought of struggling for the team at its most important race.

"It is going to be really nice for me to race at Mugello as a Ducati rider because I can remember from past seasons seeing all the fans dressed in red and cheering on their riders from the grandstand," he said.

"It is an honour and a privilege for me to now be a part of this team and this tradition. I hope with all my heart that I can be competitive because those fans don't deserve to see a Ducati at the back."

He hopes that Friday practice will run smoothly so he can be better prepared for qualifying than he has at this year's opening rounds.

"I'd really like to have some better results on the board and be going into the factory's home race with some more experience under our belts but we are making progress and now I hope we can make a good step on Friday so that we can build on it over the rest of the weekend," Hayden said.

Team boss Livio Suppo is optimistic about Ducati's Mugello prospects following a strong test at the track recently with retired Superbike legend Troy Bayliss and test rider Vitto Guareschi.

"It will be tough, like always, but I think we can do well - as the impressive lap times recorded by Troy and Vitto in the recent test demonstrated," said Suppo.

Ducati is seeking to end arch-rival Valentino Rossi's seven-year winning streak at its home circuit.

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