Despite scoring just six out of a possible 50 points in the last two MotoGP races, Johann Zarco remains the top satellite rider and only eight points from second in the standings Valentino Rossi.

But with Pramac's Danilo Petrucci now just a single point behind, Zarco and the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team knows they need a return to the sharp-end at the revised Barcelona circuit this weekend.

The Catalunya venue has been resurfaced and the penultimate corner modified ahead of this year's race, with Zarco and team-mate Hafizh Syahrin joining most of their rivals to try the modifications at a recent private test.

“The Catalunya circuit is a great track and I’m happy to come back there. We had the test with the team and it was going pretty well," said Zarco, now fifth in the world championship.

"I hope to find this good feeling straight again and be strong all the weekend to fight for the podium or even the victory, if the dream would come true.

"After two difficult races, especially in Mugello, where I was struggling, I would truly enjoy to be back in a great place with the top guys.”

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Team manager Herve Poncharal added: “Mugello has been a tough weekend, although we knew before that it’s going to be difficult, unfortunately we were not surprised and like it was the case last year, the track was tough for Johann and the M1.

"The good thing is, that we’ve been testing in Montmeló straight after Le Mans and this test has been really positive. Both, Johann and Hafizh got good feedback and not only for one fast lap, but also regarding their race pace.

"Right now, Johann is inside a very tight group of the provisional ranking, which means he misses only eight points to P2.

"Cleary, we are in a very important moment of the championship, we need to score in every race. We saw how tough the DNF in France was and the struggling in Italy has been, so we need to keep our heads down and hope to be back in the front group in Barcelona, which is the main target."

Syahrin will also have plenty of motivation having re-signed to remain at Tech3 for 2019 (during the team's move from Yamaha to KTM), being tied for top rookie honours with Franco Morbidelli in the championship and with Spain as his European base.

“I’m looking forward to the Catalan GP, which is like my second home race, because I’m based in Spain for quite a long time already. The track is my favourite, too," said the Malaysian.

"We’ve already done the test here and after this and the race in Mugello, I have a really good feeling with the bike and understand the setup. I can’t wait for this round!

"I want to do a decent race again and fight for the top rookie spot. Physically I’m quite strong now, so I’m well prepared to arrive in Montmeló.”

"Hafizh has another fight to master, battling against his fellow rookies for the top spot," Poncharal said.

"This will [also] be the first race in 2018 where we are 100 percent sure of our 2019 line-up, so it’s one worry less in my head and certainly also one less for Hafizh.

"I believe, when you saw his performance in Mugello, it’s very easy to see that he deserves this contract and factory support from next year.”

Zarco and then team-mate Jonas Folger finished fifth and sixth at Barcelona last year, as the factory Yamaha team struggled to eighth and tenth.

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