Monster Yamaha Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal is expecting a top five/top satellite challenge from Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro at this weekend's Japanese MotoGP.

The pair finished fifth and sixth respectively in the dry-wet Aragon race, which saw rookie Espargaro especially strong in the dry while Smith charged his way forwards from 20th.

"For Pol, who won here last year in Moto2, we expect him to continue as he has been and hope that his positive feeling will enable him to break into the top five," said Poncharal. "As for Brad, who showed his commitment and determination by doing what he did in a brilliant race in Aragon, we expect a similar performance from him here and to challenge with Pol for the position of the leading satellite bike."

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Espargaro is just four points behind older brother Aleix in the battle for seventh in the world championship standings and hopes front-end progress will pay dividends at the hard-braking Motegi circuit.

"I am very excited for this weekend as I am sure we can have a great race at Motegi after a positive performance at the last round," said the Spaniard.

"There is a lot of emphasis on hard braking at the Japanese circuit due to the nature of the track, which is a bit similar to Aragon where we were solid. We are good on the brakes so this could really help us here in securing a strong finish and I will push hard to be as close to the leaders as possible.

"Ultimately, our efforts and improvements on the front in Spain resulted in making some progress in closing in on the Factory Yamaha riders a bit more. This is a big step forward and leaves me feeling confident for Sunday.

"I won the Moto2 race here last year, so I have fond memories of the track and of course, the fantastic fans. I am full of optimism and I am eager to start the Twin Ring Motegi challenge on my Yamaha YZR-M1."

Smith is only tenth in the standings but within easy reach of LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl and Pramac Ducati's Andrea Iannone, with four rounds to go. The Englishman also feels that set-up progress in Spain will work in his favour.

"We undertook some really useful work in Spain where we focused on improving the feeling under braking and the stability of the Yamaha, which will certainly be very important at Motegi," Smith said.

"I am certain that with the valuable information we collected at Aragon, we will be able to get up to speed quickly so that we can hit the ground running for this weekend. Our efforts at the last round were rewarded and I will battle my hardest to produce another display like that."