Pol Espargaro is hoping the cornering performance of his Monster Tech 3 Yamaha can overcome the formidable straight-line punch of the Ducatis, as he seeks top 'Independent' honours in front of his home fans in the Catalunya MotoGP.

The 24-year-old, born just a stone's throw from the circuit, currently holds top satellite honours by five points over Avintia's Hector Barbera, with fellow Desmosedici rider Eugene Laverty (Aspar) 12 points back.

"I am very excited for this weekend because not only is it my home race, but I am looking forward to putting on a good show for my fans who mean a lot to me," Espargaro said.

"I have spent a lot of time on this track, but it will never get boring because it really is a spectacular circuit and one that challenges every aspect of our riding.

"The straight is long so the Ducatis will have a slight advantage, yet the Yamaha enjoys the corners and is always strong there, so it will be close plus I think we can be at the front of the independent battle on Sunday afternoon.

"Last weekend's race ended in a disappointing way for me, however, I am ready to turn everything around and have a positive race in Montmelo."

Team-mate Bradley Smith is currently fourth in the independent rankings, but arrives with the momentum of finishing as top satellite last time at Mugello.

"Last year I finished as the leading satellite rider in 5th, the result may be a bit more difficult to achieve this year because the level of competition has risen, but I will still give it everything I've got to score a solid position," he said.

"It may have taken me a bit longer than some other rides to adapt to the Michelin tyres, but we have made the step and I can now get the results that I want and need to. This weekend I will be gunning for the top independent team position and I know Pol will be strong there, so I'll do my best to beat him at his home GP."

Espargaro - seventh in the overall classification and yet to sign for 2017 - has finished as the top non-factory rider three times this year, followed by once each for Laverty, Smith and Scott Redding (Pramac).



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