I think he did great this year in moto gp. I love seeing somebody that was riding on inferior equipment for so long finally get something they can work with. Hopefully he will finish in the top 3 next year.
Kawi has been slowing improving their scene. They might be right in the hunt next year but I'm sure the other manufacturers are burning some midnight oil. I suspect the Yamaha will be a lot better in '08. Michelin should pull finger and get some better rubber by then too.
Most Americans, lacking the MotoGP 250 class experience, have had a long runway in MotoGP. It's pretty clear that the best ramp to the open class is through 250's. That's not an absolute but look at how many GP's Nicky has won in his entire career: three. Two of which were at Laguna.