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Crystal clear progress for Bradley Smith as he takes his first top ten grid position of 2016.
With a number of big names battling it out in Q1, Bradley Smith’s ticket directly into Q2 proved to be incredibly valuable as it saw him avoid one of the toughest Q1 sessions of the year. The Q2 session wasn’t any easier but the Brit put up the best fight he could and was able to set a 1’47.247 to take eighth on the grid. This is Smith first time inside the top ten on the grid in what has been an incredibly difficult 2016 season. Seeds of this result were planted back in Le Mans when Smith and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team made a significant step forward.
Eighth place also granted Smith the honours of being the fastest Independent Team rider and doing the same in the race remains Smith’s primary goal for Sunday. Forecasts are predicting similarly scorching conditions for the race but Smith is prepared after running with a number of different tyres in Free Practice 4.
Bradley Smith: “I am really pleased to clinch the top independent position today and we’re on for a good race tomorrow if we keep our heads down. We certainly took advantage of the situation even though it was very competitive because some of the top riders ended up in QP1 and didn’t get out of it. Therefore, I’m happy that we got through to qualifying two via a good performance in FP3. I have to be satisfied with the end result because so far in 2016, it’s been challenging in both the qualifying and in the race. Yet, in Le Mans I feel that the team and I improved quite a lot but unfortunately I made a mistake in the race there. However, we’ve learnt from our mistakes and it worked here. We played around with tyres a bit too much in FP4 so initially in QP2 I wasn’t as quick as I should have been, but we made the right choice for the final run. There are plenty of positives but I want to be in the top independent position in 24 hours time. We know that tomorrow will be hot and as I was able to test all of the tyres today, I have quite a clear plan about which compound to use. There are still a few small refinements to make, but the plan for the race is to get a good start and then try to remain with the factory guys for as long as possible, and then we will see what happens at the end of the GP."
2 years ago