Catalunya MotoGP: Nicky Hayden hoping to mount stronger challenge
Nicky Hayden might have dragged himself closer to contending for a podium on a regular basis in 2010 but the American is still searching for a big improvement.
Four fourth places in the opening six races has seen Hayden make a positive start to the season on the improved factory Ducati GP10.
But the Kentucky rider is still searching for his first podium finish of the season having narrowly missed out in Qatar, Le Mans and Silverstone.
And the 2006 world champion is hoping he can challenge the leading group in the next few races.
He said: “My goal is not fourth, especially with Valentino (Rossi) out. That opens up one spot and certainly a podium would help things but I’ll just keep trying hard and the team is doing great job.
"It's all there, we've just got to put it together. When I signed again for Ducati I didn't expect to run around in the back and I didn't think I’d be tied for fourth in the championship.
"I think I've had a solid start but I'm not overly happy. I feel close at times but its that next step we have to make that's been frustrating, to really get up there and challenge the top guys every week. But I feel so much more comfortable on the bike and I'm having a lot more fun than I did last year, but I always want more."
Going into this weekend’s seventh race at the Catalunya circuit near Barcelona, Hayden said that should scorching hot weather conditions continue for the weekend, it would be difficult for Ducati.
He added: “The weather hurts grip and that’s one of our weak points in terms of edge grip. And around here you need a lot of edge grip, so the hot weather may not help us. "You are on the edge the whole track but the last two corners are very hard. They are downhill and fast especially that second to last corner is fast and downhill and the front pushes a lot.”