Reigning World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) travels to his home race this week, aiming to get his title defence back on track after several tough races.

The 22-year-old – who this time last year was in the middle of a run of ten consecutive wins – currently lies fifth overall in the points standings, following crashes in the third and sixth races of the 18-event calendar. Marquez has already proved his speed this year, with a victory and a second place, but he has lacked the devastating consistency he showed last season as he romped towards his second consecutive MotoGP crown.

The omens are certainly auspicious for this weekend’s Catalan Grand Prix at the Catalunya circuit to the north of Barcelona. The former 125cc, Moto2 and twice MotoGP king has won GPs at the fast and flowing venue in two categories: in 125s in 2010 and in MotoGP last year. And during his childhood racing career he enjoyed considerable success at the track, which is only 110km (68 miles) from his family home in Cervera.

During a difficult run of races, Marquez and his team are working hard to return to the peak of performance that had them dominate last year’s championship with a record-breaking 13 victories in a single season. They have been fine-tuning the youngster’s 2015 RC213V to improve corner-entry and corner-exit performance. They had solved corner-exit issues in time for the last race in Italy but still had to perfect corner-entry. Two weeks ago at Mugello, Marquez slid out of the race after challenging strongly for second place.

Team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) made a welcome return to the podium at Mugello following a three-race absence during which he underwent surgery to fix a lingering arm-pump problem in his right forearm. The Spaniard is one of several riders who have had similar surgery this year, which highlights the huge physical demands of riding a modern-day Grand Prix bike.

Pedrosa is even more of a local to the Catalunya circuit that his team-mate – the former 125cc and twice 250cc World Champion hails from Sabadell, just 20km (13 miles) from the track. The 29-year-old won his first Grand Prix at Catalunya in 2003, in 125s, and has followed that with a 250 win in 2005 and a MotoGP victory in 2008. He is still returning to full strength following his recent operation but is confident of being on the pace this weekend.

Briton Cal Crutchlow (CWM LCR Honda RC213V) is Honda’s next-best rider, currently holding seventh in the points chase after a strong start to his first season on an RCV, including third place in April’s Argentine GP, won with a typically forceful move at the final corner. However, Crutchlow has tumbled out of the last two races, while gunning for top results. At Mugello he dislocated his right ankle. After plenty of cycle training he hopes to be as close to fully fit as possible this weekend,

The fourth rider on Honda’s factory-spec machine is Scott Redding (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V), still learning his way in his second MotoGP season and his first on a full-power factory machine. The Briton, who was runner-up in the 2013 Moto2 series, has had one top-ten finish so far and is working hard to turn the corner which will allow him to challenge for better results.

Four more Honda riders compete on the marque’s Open spec machine, the RC213-RS, which uses a control ECU that will be mandatory for all bikes from next season. Three of these four men have already scored points this season, which is turning out to be the toughest championship ever, a point proved in Argentina where the top 20 finishers were covered by less than a minute for the first time since GP racing started in 1949.

Former MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden (Aspar Team Honda RC213V-RS) tops the list so far, with two points-scoring finishes. MotoGP rookie Jack Miller (CWM LCR Honda RC213V-RS) is next up, despite DNFs at the last two rounds. The 20-year-old, who graduated to the premier class directly from Moto3, has a huge amount of learning to do as he grapples with a 230 horsepower machine instead of a 50 horsepower machine.

Honda’s second MotoGP rookie Eugene Laverty (Aspar Team Honda RC213V-RS) is learning fast, scoring points at the last two races, after joining the championship from World Superbike.

Czech rider Karel Abraham (AB Motoracing Honda RC213V-RS) has had a luckless season, with tumbles, technical issues and a jump start at Mugello keeping him out of the points.

2013 Repsol Honda Team MotoGP Dani Pedrosa #26 & Marc Marquez #93 promotional video
Marc Marquez

Marc Marquez 93

“It was disappointing to crash out in Mugello but this can happen when you’re on the limit. This weekend we head to Catalunya for my home GP and we have a lot of work to do to prepare the bike. I’ve had good results at the track and won there last year, so I hope to do the same in front of all my fans! Let’s hope we can have a good battle and put on a good show.”

Repsol Honda Team
Dani Pedrosa

Dani Pedrosa 26

“Mugello was pretty positive as I can feel my arm improving all the time. I’ve continued my rehabilitation since the race and now we head to my home race in Montmelò. We have a busy weekend ahead as we need to work hard on the bike to solve some issues. Set-up is key at this track as you spend so much time on the edge of the tyre. You can feel the energy of the fans and I hope we can take advantage of it! Let’s hope it’s nice weather and the fans can enjoy the weekend!”

Repsol Honda Team
Cal Crutchlow

Cal Crutchlow 35

“I’ve been doing cycle training since my crash in the race at Mugello, so we’ll have to wait and see how close I am to 100 per cent this weekend. The crash was a shame for the whole team, who have been working so hard for me, so we’ll try and get the best result in Barcelona to make up for that. The good thing is that I’ve had a good pace at the last few races, so we need to keep working in the same direction and make sure we get back in the points.”

LCR Honda
Scott Redding

Scott Redding 45

“In Barcelona we need to continue trying to improve, increasing the pace in free practice so that I go straight into Q2 and have the chance to qualify higher up the grid. In the race I need to get a better feeling for the tyres during the early laps, especially when the track temperature is high, because there is a lot of movement and it’s difficult to understand where the limit is. I think we’re close with the set-up of the bike.”

EG 0,0 Marc VDS
Private: Nicky Hayden

Nicky Hayden 69

“We found a pretty good pace at Mugello so it was a shame that we didn’t manage to finish the race with a good result. Luckily I wasn’t injured in the crash and we can look forward to the Catalunya round, another great GP at a great track. The team is doing a fantastic job and each time I ride the bike I feel more confident. Catalunya is a really difficult track, where tyre wear is always an issue because of the number of long corners where you’re on the edge of the tyre.”

Power Electronics Aspar
Jack Miller

Jack Miller 43

“We come to Barcelona after a couple of tough races, but the good thing is that I’m still in good shape, so we just need to keep our heads down and work to fix a few issues. We need to get me more comfortable with the front, because that’s our weakness at the moment. Mugello on a MotoGP bike was a real eye-opener - a heap of fun, but a real eye-opener. Barcelona is a great track too, so I’m looking forward to enjoying myself on the bike again.”

LCR Honda
Eugene Laverty

Eugene Laverty 50

“These past two rounds have been really difficult and so I really want to rediscover the pace we had shown earlier in the season. Catalunya is essentially a ‘new’ circuit for me as I haven’t ridden there since 2008. I don’t see that as a big hurdle, as I’ll do my homework and prepare well beforehand. The team are working hard to improve the balance of the bike to help me in the flowing corners and I’m confident that we’re moving in the right direction.”

Power Electronics Aspar
Karel Abraham

Karel Abraham 17

“Every race it gets harder and harder to get points when you don’t have any. Mugello was one of the hardest races ever. I hate to run alone but I did it. Barcelona is a nice track. There are some hairpins, which I don’t like, but there are other corners that I really do like. I hope it isn’t going to rain because it gets really slippery, due to the Formula 1 race and other car events. I’m looking forward to this round as it’s one of the circuits that I like the most.”

AB Motoracing
G.P. Monster Energy de Catalunya

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain

MotoGP 2015, Round 7

Rider Standings
Sunday, 31 May 2015 - Open world standings grid
# Rider Num Nationality Nat. Points Pts. Team Constructor Constr.
1 Valentino ROSSI 46 ITA 118 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha
2 Jorge LORENZO 99 SPA 112 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha
3 Andrea DOVIZIOSO 4 ITA 83 Ducati Team Ducati
4 Andrea IANNONE 29 ITA 81 Ducati Team Ducati
5 Marc MARQUEZ 93 SPA 69 Repsol Honda Team Honda
6 Bradley SMITH 38 GBR 57 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha
7 Cal CRUTCHLOW 35 GBR 47 LCR Honda Honda
8 Pol ESPARGARO 44 SPA 45 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha
9 Maverick VIñALES 25 SPA 36 Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki
10 Danilo PETRUCCI 9 ITA 32 Octo Pramac Racing Ducati
11 Aleix ESPARGARO 41 SPA 31 Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki
12 Yonny HERNANDEZ 68 COL 26 Octo Pramac Racing Ducati
13 Dani PEDROSA 26 SPA 23 Repsol Honda Team Honda
14 Scott REDDING 45 GBR 18 EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda
15 Hector BARBERA 8 SPA 16 Reale Avintia Racing Ducati
16 Loris BAZ 76 FRA 10 Athinà Forward Racing Forward Yamaha
17 Nicky HAYDEN 69 USA 8 Power Electronics Aspar Honda
18 Michele PIRRO 51 ITA 8 Ducati Team Ducati
19 Jack MILLER 43 AUS 6 LCR Honda Honda
20 Alvaro BAUTISTA 19 SPA 5 Aprilia Racing Team Aprilia
21 Hiroshi AOYAMA 73 JPN 5 Repsol Honda Team Honda
22 Eugene LAVERTY 50 GBR 3 Power Electronics Aspar Honda
23 Stefan BRADL 6 GER 1 Athinà Forward Racing Forward Yamaha