After crashing out of his two previous US MotoGP appearances, Alvaro Bautista will be hoping that his 2012 move to Honda Gresini will mark a change of fortune at the Laguna Seca circuit.
After making a set-up breakthrough during the post-Catalunya tests, Bautista claimed his first pole and fourth place at the following Silverstone round - but his impressive form came to a crashing halt when he wiped out Jorge Lorenzo at turn one in Holland.
The Spaniard then rode from last, following a grid penalty, to seventh in Germany and struggled throughout the team's home Mugello weekend, eventually crossing the line in tenth place.
“Mugello was a difficult weekend for us,” confessed Bautista. “I was desperate to perform well in the team's home race, especially with the livery going back to white, but unfortunately we had a lot of problems using the hard tyre and that prevented us from finding a set-up that we liked.
“I never managed to find a good feeling with the bike so wasn't able to push it or myself to the limit.
“Now I want to rediscover the pace and feeling for my bike that I had before Mugello. It would be nice to have a 'normal' weekend so that we can work on maximising our potential and being as competitive as we have been in the last few races.
“A good result would set us up for the next few weeks and also put some bad memories to bed for me in MotoGP at Laguna because I have yet to actually finish a race there.
“Laguna Seca is a difficult circuit with dramatic elevation changes and blind corners where you have to anticipate the entry point in order to get the best line. It is important to have a good setting on the bike otherwise your job on the track gets much more difficult.
“There is a wonderful and unique ambience there with there only being the MotoGP class and the atmosphere created by the American fans is fantastic.”
Rookie team-mate Michele Pirro will be making his US GP debut this weekend, and also looking to put Mugello behind him.
“I am still feeling bitter about the retirement at Mugello in my home grand prix, which made it a double disappointment for me, the team, the fans and the sponsors,” said the FTR-Honda CRT rider.