It's impossible not to feel for Nicky Hayden when he tries to smile his way through a tough first day at his home Grand Prix, a day when he could do no better than 14th in the opening session at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.Hayden ended up 14th on a sunny day on the Monterey Peninsula, 1.776 seconds off Valentino Rossi's best lap."Unfortunately it went about like the rest of the season's went," Hayden said. "Sure I was hoping to start off a lot closer here. The bike works quite well in some places on the track, but I struggle a bit in some others. I think... we gotta clear where we need to improve. Certainly getting off the corners.. the settings we have with the electronics aren't good and their not letting the bike accelerate off the corners and here is really important - especially the last corner and a few places. So if we can dial that in a bit then it should actually help a lot. I'm not sure if it's all electronics or something with the fuel map or what. Both bikes were flat off the corners."The fact that his bikes didn't run right was a bit of a puzzle for Hayden - especially since they'd worked so well at the last race in Holland just a week ago."Assen was the best my bike ran all year," Hayden said. "I had great top speed at Assen. I had about the fastest bike there and all weekend I kept telling them that was the best my bike ran all year. And here we're back to where it feels flat because I've had the problem a few times. We need to sort that out and it'd be a big step."If you're at the racetrack tomorrow, you'll know if the problem is fixed. If it is, Hayden's Ducati will lift the front wheel coming off the corners. Right now, it doesn't have the oomph to wheelie."Wheeling will probably come up [if the problem is fixed]," Hayden said. "Normally you have a lot of wheeling, and I wasn't wheelieing."Hayden also discussed coming to his home GP as a Ducati rider for the first time."There are definitely a lot of Ducati fans, especially in Northern California," he said. "There are a lot of Ducati riders and that's cool, but the fans here... I could be riding a moped and I feel like they'd support me pretty good. Ducati is great. The passion, the support... even when things aren't going well. That's when you learn a lot about the people - when things are going bad and to see the attitude is still good, it just makes you want to deliver that much more."He's hoping to deliver more tomorrow.

MotoGP Headlines

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.

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