World Superbike Championship leader Tom Sykes has high hopes he can extend his slender advantage in the overall standings as the season enters the critical final phase at Laguna Seca.

Like the previous round at Istanbul Park, Laguna Seca represents another new venue for Sykes, the Californian venue making its return to the WSBK schedules following an absence of eight years.

A potentially crucial round for the title contenders with only three events remaining this season, Sykes - who leads Sylvain Guintoli by eight points in the overall standings - is confident he can get the Kawasaki ZX-10R up to speed to keep his title rivals at bay.

"I am feeling happy with how things are going," he said. "It was good to leave the previous round in Turkey with an extended championship lead but I wanted to do even better there. We lost a bit of time in practice to the weather and it was a circuit I had not raced at before. If there had been a third race that weekend I am very confident we could have improved the set-up of the bike and made another big step forward.

"On the back of those two podium results we are going to Laguna Seca now, which is another new circuit for me. It is considerably shorter than Istanbul was and I should have more track time than I had in Turkey. I am happy and confident in the package of the Ninja ZX-10R. We are heading into the final three rounds and it is amazing how quickly they tick by.

Suggesting Laguna Seca's tight and technical layout could make it similar to those he competed on in the British Superbike Championship, Sykes is looking forward to making his debut there.

"I have heard that Laguna is a beautiful track and that it is quite tight and technical, a bit like some of the circuit layouts I experienced when riding in BSB. Only a couple of weeks ago I was in San Diego, California, which is not too far away from Laguna. I am looking forward to getting back out there because I enjoy America as a country. I hope to bring back some good memories from my first trip to Laguna Seca."

Sykes will be joined in the factory Kawasaki team this weekend by David Salom, the World Supersport regular replacing the injured Loris Baz.