Chris Vermeulen says he is keen to carry the Suzuki team to its first podium finish of the season as he heads to Laguna Seca - scene of some of his strongest performances in MotoGP.

The former World Superbike Championship racer took pole on his Laguna debut in 2006 and followed that up with back-to-back podiums in 2007 and 2008.

Despite not yet making it onto the podium in 2009, Vermeulen said he was confident for the weekend ahead and was hopeful of a competitive showing from the GSV-R.

"I'm really looking forward to Laguna Seca," he said. "It's certainly one of my favourite circuits and I've been on the podium there for the last two years, as well as a pole position in 2006. I certainly want to try and repeat those performances and get the Suzuki on the podium for the first time in 2009.

"I hope it is a good race for all the fans and that the weather is as nice as it usually is. I am sure we can be competitive from day one and put on a good show."

Team-mate Loris Capirossi was forced to battle injury at Laguna last season but with a bike he claims is 'improving every time I ride it', the Italian will seek to shine.

"I wasn't at full strength at Laguna last year following my crash at Assen and all the changes in direction really made it a painful race for me," he said. "This year I am going there fully fit and the bike seems to be improving every time I ride it, so we are hoping to be right up amongst the front guys this weekend.

"The season still has a long way to go and I am now in-touch with the top-five in the championship and that certainly has to be our target - to break into that group and go from strength-to-strength at every race."

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