Marquez hopes home comforts can bolster world championship lead

Montmeló (Spain) (AFP) –


Spain's Marc Marquez will try to end his drought at the Catalan Grand Prix on Sunday and extend his lead in the world championship by winning his home race on the 70th anniversary of MotoGP.

Marquez was beaten by Ducati's Danilo Petrucci in the previous round in Mugello earlier this month but still managed to stretch his advantage at the top of the standings.

The Honda rider sits 12 points ahead of Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso, also of Ducati, 27 in front of Suzuki's Alex Rins and 33 above Petrucci.

But, despite being born in Cervera in central Catalonia, Marquez has only once won his local race in MotoGP, in 2014.

"There is always a little more excitement when the Grand Prix comes home," said Marquez, a five-time MotoGP world champion since 2013.

"The bike and I are in a very good position, I have been able to rest since the last race and I'm back to full strength."

Marquez is far from the only rider wanting to capitalise on home comforts.

Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) is also from Catalonia and Rins is from Barcelona, while the brothers Pol and Aleix Espargaro (KTM and Aprilia respectively) were born in Granollers, near the circuit of Montmelo.

They will be competing with the Italian contingent of Ducati, who have claimed victory in this event for the last two years, as well as Yamaha's Valentino Rossi, who won in 2017.

"We are going through a crucial phase of the season and we must continue scoring as many points as possible," said Dovizioso, twice a runner-up in the world championship.

The competition also celebrates 70 years this weekend since its first race, the Tourist Trophy of the Isle of Man. It was held on June 13, 1949 and won by Britain's Freddie Frith.