If home star Nicky Hayden
can claim a top for finish on Sunday it will be his best result of the season, and as a Ducati rider at Laguna Seca.
A double winner of the event for Honda, the 2006 world champion hasn't been higher than fifth since his Desmosedici debut at the circuit in 2008.
“It's nice to be going home to Laguna, which is a race that I love and that's obviously very special to me. The circuit is quite unique, and it's not easy, as you need to be confident and attack the corners. It's quite a demanding, technical track and a lot of the corners are linked together. You really have to hit your marks there in order to be fast.”
The only factory rider yet to sign for 2014, this year's event could be Hayden's last for the Italian team. Hayden is ninth in the standings as the season approaches its halfway point.
“I wish we were headed there with more speed and confidence, but the reality is this,” said Hayden. “Up until now, we certainly haven't been getting the results we'd like by any means, but with the summer break coming up, it would be nice to go there, have some fun, and leave with a good taste in our mouths.”
The US GP won't just be a special event for Hayden - Ducati sells more motorcycles in the USA than any other country and a number of promotional initiatives are planned over the weekend.
“Laguna Seca is a track with a lot of elevation change, so in some ways, it's similar to the Sachsenring,” said team manager Vittoriano Guareschi. “It's Nicky's home track, so he'll surely be hoping to redeem his disappointing result in Germany. It's a race that he has won twice in the past, so we know that he can do well there.”
Hayden's team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, like the other factory MotoGP team riders, is contracted to the end of 2014. Dovizioso has three fourth places to his credit at the Californian circuit - on Honda and Yamaha machinery – but doesn't count the track among his favourites.
“I don't know what we can expect at Laguna with a completely different bike for me this year,” said the Italian. “Unfortunately, I think it's a similar track to the Sachsenring in many ways.
“Maybe we'll have fewer problems with turn-in since the corners are tighter, but all the bikes tend to pump a lot at Laguna because it's very particular with its uphills and downhills. I don't particularly enjoy the place, but as always we're going there with the aim of getting the best possible result.”