MotoGP rookie Pol Espargaro may have raced in Spain once this year, but he grew up just a few kilometres from this weekend's event at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.
Riding for Monster Yamaha Tech 3, the reigning Moto2 champion has claimed three top-six finishes so far this season, including a fourth place from second on the grid at Le Mans.
"It goes without saying that I am so excited for my home GP and I will try my absolute best to get a top result in front of my Catalan fans,” said Espargaro, who finished ninth in the first Spanish round at Jerez. “My confidence is high as I feel that I am steadily improving my adaption to the MotoGP bike.
“In fact both my qualifying performances as well as my race pace have become much more competitive since the beginning of the season, especially in the last two races where I have consistently been in the top five. Therefore I truly hope I can continue this trend for the weekend.
“In addition, I have had some great results here previously, for example last year in Moto2 where I started on pole before winning the race. So this weekend will for sure be one to remember for me in my first appearance on a MotoGP bike. I can't wait!"
Team boss Herve Poncharal added: “It will be a big race for the whole Tech3 Team as our title backers Monster Energy sponsor the event and it will also be Pol's home GP who was born basically just behind the main grandstand!
“Moreover he has done excellently in the past two races and his huge level of improvement is obvious to see, so we are convinced he will put on a superb show for his home fans by trying to fight for a top five finish again.”
Espargaro is currently sixth in the world championship, while team-mate Bradley Smith has slipped back to tenth after seeing his race points decrease since a fifth place in round two at Austin. The Englishman, who suffered his second DNF of the season last time at Mugello, said:
"The last grand prix at Mugello did not go exactly how I had planned and it was not a true representation of my race ability. We were just a bit unlucky which can sometimes happen to any rider, however I am confident as always and I know I can get a strong result this weekend.
“The Yamaha works well here and last season I got my joint best result of sixth in my rookie season. So this year I plan to up the stakes and finish higher. It's demanding and technical but good fun to ride so I am charged and ready to do my best at the Monster Energy sponsored Grand Prix."
“As for Bradley, the team and I are sure of a strong result this weekend,” declared Poncharal. “It was unfortunate what happened in Mugello but we are all completely confident in his ability. He will perform well at a track that suits the Yamaha and which he also enjoys. I have great confidence in both of our boys and the race on Sunday will be a memorable one as it always is in Catalunya."