Dani Pedrosa feels he is now sufficiently recovered from his Mugello hip injury to deliver a strong race in this weekend's US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca.
The Repsol Honda rider has effectively dropped out of the title fight following the cracked thigh, plus two DNFs from the last three rounds, but - aided by the modified chassis - will be hoping to put his RCV back on the podium for the first time since Le Mans.
Pedrosa withdrew from last year's US GP after the opening day due to injuries sustained at the previous German Grand Prix, but finished second to team-mate Nicky Hayden on his debut appearance in the 2006 event.
“I'm actually really looking forward to getting to Laguna and I'm feeling confident going into the weekend - as I was before Assen,” said Pedrosa, who crashed out of fourth place in the Dutch TT. “The result there wasn't great, but there's no reason why we can't have a strong race in the US.
“I felt much better on the bike in Assen than I did in Barcelona and, although my physical fitness is not at 100 per cent because I haven't been training as usual for quite a while, the injury is getting better and isn't giving me any problems on the machine.
“The Laguna track itself is unique and it can be a lot of fun to ride - as long as you're going quickly. When you're struggling it obviously isn't quite as much fun! As a team we've got to continue working hard and bring the whole machine package up to a level where we can compete for wins again.
“We're making progress and with luck Laguna will take us closer to that target,” he declared.
Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso also crashed out of fourth at Assen, but will regroup and try to challenge for his first Repsol podium this weekend, having finished fourth on his rookie Laguna Seca appearance last season.
“I really look forward to the race in Laguna Seca,” said the Italian. “The track itself and the whole atmosphere makes coming to Laguna a fascinating experience. Last year was the first time that I had raced in the United States and I was impressed by this track.
“Some parts are quite dangerous and very different from the European standard of racetracks we are used to, but the whole atmosphere is incredible and I like it a lot.
“I'm confident that we can have a good race here. Last year I had a good battle and finished fourth, which I was pleased with. I feel as though I've come fourth enough times this year though, so I hope to make the step up.
“At each race we're getting closer to the leading riders but we're still not close enough yet. So we need to work hard to get the speed and consistency we need."
Dovizioso will start the weekend fourth in the championship, two points in front of Dovizioso and Colin Edwards.