Alex de Angelis and Toni Elias head into this weekend's US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca just twelfth and 14th in the MotoGP World Championship standings, but confident that their situation is improving.

Despite being classified outside the top nine last time out at Assen, de Angelis felt he made a big step towards solving the rear traction problems that have dogged him since the start of the season, while Elias fought through the field to challenge for sixth in the final corner.

"I am extremely motivated going into this race because we're finally finding the right way with the bike and working through our problems," said de Angelis. "We know that sometimes when you solve one problem you can create another and finding the ideal package isn't easy, but the point is that we are solving our biggest issue, which is rear traction, and that is important. I don't think anything more problematic than that is going to crop up!

"I love Laguna Seca, I went fast from the first day on my debut there last year and we know the tyres work well there too, so I am excited," continued Alex, 13th in last season's race. "The target is to get involved with that second group again but this time be fighting with them all the way to the final corner."

Elias fought a little too strongly to try and take the lead of the second group from Loris Capirossi at Assen, resulting in a post-race penalty that dropped him to twelfth.

"I left the last race at Assen feeling frustrated with the result, having been relegated to twelfth by Race Direction for an aggressive move in the final corner, but even the eighth place I managed before the penalty was below our expectations," said the Spaniard.

"Having said that I was encouraged by the performance and to have passed so many riders in the race gives me motivation and determination to continue where I left off at Laguna Seca.

"I'll receive another frame like the one that I like and that should allow us to work a bit more calmly and make quicker progress in adjusting the set-up. Our recent pace suggests that we're not far from making another step forward - not into the top four just yet but at least a little closer to them," added Toni, who finished seventh for Pramac Ducati in last year's Laguna Seca event.

In 2007 former - and perhaps future - Gresini rider Marco Melandri finished third at the US GP, something team manager Fausto Gresini is drawing encouragement from.

"In 2007 our team produced a fantastic performance at this circuit and it has always suited the characteristics of the Honda RC212V, so hopefully that will continue to be the case this weekend," said team manager Fausto Gresini.

Gresini announced at Assen that 250cc world champion Marco Simoncelli will ride one of the team's RC212Vs next season.