With a pair of podiums and second place in the world championship, Francesco Bagnaia heads to Jerez having emerged as one of the dark horses in the early MotoGP title chase.

It was at Jerez last year where Bagnaia produced his first real stand-out performances in the premier-class, qualifying fourth and top Ducati for the Andalucia round and only being denied a debut podium by a late technical failure when in second place.

It was the start of a run of form that, despite being injured at Brno, netted Bagnaia the remaining factory Ducati seat alongside Pramac team-mate Jack Miller for 2021.

Bagnaia returns to Jerez as the top Ducati in the current standings, 15 points behind Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo, and growing in confidence with every event.

"After the second place in the last round at Portimão, where I struggled a lot in 2020, I arrive at the Spanish GP full of energy and determination," said Bagnaia, who fought his way from 11th on the grid to 2nd place in Portugal.

"Last year I was very competitive at Jerez, and this year I feel I can be even stronger, although obviously, we'll have to see how this weekend develops.

"I feel very comfortable with the team, and we're doing a really good job together, so I'm confident that we can have another good race on Sunday".

Team-mate Miller was also strong at Jerez last season, finishing fourth in race one before crashing out of podium contention in race two.

An accident also ended his podium hopes last time in Portimao and the Australian arrives in Spain just twelfth in the world championship.

"I'm really excited to be back racing at Jerez, a track where I was very competitive last year, finishing fourth in the Spanish GP," Miller said.

"The first races of 2021 were quite difficult, but my feeling with the Desmosedici is good, and after the operation on my right forearm, I didn't have any more arm pump issue during the weekend.

"I am confident I can have a good race this Sunday".