Tom Sykes is 'quietly confident' he will be challenging up at the front for the latest round of the 2011 World Superbike Championship around Monza, scene of his breakthrough result in 2010.

The Briton scored a surprise top five finish around the high-speed Italian venue last season, Kawasaki's then best result for more than two years.

One year on and Sykes is sure the new ZX-10R, which has shown flashes of pace since it was introduced at the start of the season, will be similarly competitive at Monza again, particularly after a positive recent test in Japan.

"I am really looking forward to Monza because it is a venue I enjoy and a circuit we had a relatively good result at last year," said Sykes.

"We should be looking to improve on that result with this year's bike. I have had a boost because we had a test in Japan after the previous round and we found some good settings, so hopefully those changes will transfer to the Monza round and then through the rest of the calendar.

"My crew chief Johnny, and also Danilo who is the man behind the electronic strategy, were there in Japan for the test and it was good for me to work with the Japanese development engineers again. It was all a positive. I am quietly confident and I do like racing at Monza."

After a tough weekend at Assen, Sykes's team-mate Joan Lascorz is also keen to get back to form at Monza.

"Each race I know the bike a bit better and it seems each time if we make a good setup we should be competitive. The choice of the tyres will be important, as we learned in Assen. I think my transition to WSBK has been fine, I feel comfortable and competitive. Not as much as I used to be in WSS but I think that will arrive soon.

"Our bike is good, KHI is focused so much and my technicians are very good. I just have to learn a little more and regain more physical strength and I'm sure the results will arrive. I know Kawasaki is working hard, and me too, so we are heading in a good direction."

Having made a tentative race return at Assen, Chris Vermeulen has been working hard on building up his fitness for Monza and is hopeful he will be able to do a full weekend, including the two races.

"My knee was a bit sore and swollen after the Assen weekend but I started back into training and physio and the weather has been good to help me. My doctor is very happy with everything and now I just need to build up muscle strength and endurance in my leg.

"My intention is to do the full weekend and both races on Sunday at Monza and to become quite competitive again on the new Kawasaki. Our engine is fast and I think we could be competitive with the quicker bikes."

Having declared his dissatisfaction with the results from Assen, where neither Sykes nor Lascorz managed a top ten finish, team owner Paul Bird - who will be contesting the Manx Telecom Rally - is optimistic Monza will play to the bike's strengths

"We were very disappointed with the results at Assen and hope that we can improve at Monza. The track should suit our bikes and hopefully Tom, Joan and Chris can do themselves as well as the team and the bikes justice this weekend.

"I'll be keeping a close eye on things whilst contesting the rally and hopefully we can have a dual celebration this weekend!"



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