Twelfth place in Catalunya last season marked the best result of Eugene Laverty's rookie year in MotoGP.

But the Irishman returns having equalled or improved on that position in every 2016 race until Mugello (13th), and believes the rear grip and braking performance of his Desmosedici 14.2 will see him fighting for a top ten on his return to Barcelona this weekend.

"In Barcelona I think we can be really strong because this bike is so good under braking," said Laverty, whose Aspar team have swapped from Honda to Ducati machinery over the winter. "Also the rear grip is now good so in Barcelona I think we can take another step and my goal will be to finish inside the top ten again.

"We have come off the back of one of our most difficult weekends having salvaged some points, thanks partly to some crashes for other riders, which keeps our run of points-scoring finishes going, but I expect this weekend to be more like Jerez where we scored a genuine top ten.

"This bike, my feeling with this bike and my riding style will be a good combination for this track," added Laverty, who will also have a special helmet design for this weekend.

Laverty - who scored a total of nine points last season - is currently tenth in the world championship on 36 points, putting him between factory Ducati riders Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso.