Nicky Hayden gave the home supporters something to cheer at Mugello by going third fastest in Friday Practice ahead of the Italian Grand Prix. The 2006 world champion was the leading Ducati with a lap set on soft tyres and feels comfortable on that compound for qualifying, but still sees room for improvement on the harder option.

“Things started out pretty well this morning. I did a 14-lap run with times that were steadily pretty good. From there, we haven't really made a big step with the hard tyre. My best time was with the soft, which we tried for a couple laps just to make sure there are no surprises when we put it in for qualifying. We're struggling a bit with grip on rear entry, which hasn't been the case lately, but we have some ideas to try. This track is tough, but I like it, and there's still time to improve before Sunday.”

Teammate Valentino Rossi was ninth with the second factory Desmosedici although he didn't put soft tyres on at the end. The home favourite has yet to run the quicker tyre which will come into play during qualifying and is cautiously optimistic about his chances.

“We wanted to do a long run this afternoon to check the tyres, but I had to interrupt it due to a problem with chatter. We had made a change to the fork setting compared to the morning and maybe that was what caused it because after returning to the previous setting and making some other small changes to the setup, it immediately worked a bit better. Anyway, I kept using the same tyre for the entire session, about 20 laps, and I did my best time at the end. Tomorrow we'll try again to do a long exit, although there shouldn't be any big problems with temperature or endurance here. We didn't try the soft tyre today, so tomorrow we'll also see how we go with that. There are still a few things to adjust, especially on the second half of the track, because I'm quite fast on the first part. We have some ideas, and we'll see tomorrow.”