Nicky Hayden says he's aware of the heavy expectations for strong performances and results upon his return to Laguna Seca but wants to be realistic against his rivals at his home event.
The Honda rider will be main focus at his home round in his maiden full World Superbike campaign and is delighted to be returning to Laguna Seca – the track where he claimed two of his three MotoGP career race wins.
It will be the first time Hayden has competed at the Californian circuit since 2013 after it dropped off the MotoGP race calendar and despite his strong results at the iconic circuit he says he has to be honest on targeting results against the likes of Jonathan Rea, Chaz Davies and Tom Sykes.
“I know people are expecting a lot from me, but I have to be realistic and know what our pace has been in dry races,” Hayden said. “It won't be easy to battle with the British guys, who at the moment are kind of dominating, but we'll go there and give it our absolute best shot.
“It's been a few years since I got the chance to ride at Laguna, so I can't wait to drop down the Corkscrew again and ride at such a great track. The atmosphere there has always been amazing and there's definitely a great vibe.
“We'll try to have some fun and most importantly get some results that me, my fans and the team can be happy about.”
Hayden has claimed two rostrum results in 2016, with the highlight of victory in the wet race two at Sepang, and currently sits sixth in the riders' championship – 17 points behind Honda team-mate Michael van der Mark.
The 2006 MotoGP world champion's debut in World Superbikes came at Laguna Seca in 2002 as a wildcard for American Honda on board an RC51 and he grabbed two points finishes including a fourth place finish.