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114 laps across three days in Qatar leaves Bradley Smith in 13th and with a lot learned despite frustration with tyres.
The 2016 off-season has been all about learning the new Michelin tyres for all the MotoGP™ World Championship riders. For many, such as Bradley Smith, this has been their first time riding a MotoGP™ bike on anything other than Bridgestone rubber. It has not been a completely smooth process for Smith but he leaves the three day Qatar Test confident of fighting for the top eight in each race. With the ideal tyres limited in Qatar, Smith feels his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine is still only at 90% and is eager for the first race weekend of the year to start.
Across the three days of testing at the Losail Smith managed a best time of 1’55.966, just over a second back on the fastest time. For one of the first times in the testing period, Smith was bested by his teammate Pol Espargaro. His Spanish teammate was 11th overall but within a tenth of Smith.
Bradley Smith: “We closed the test positively today, but all in all the pre season 2016 has been quite different compared to other years. It’s been an interesting process where we’ve had to get used to the new tyres, as well as to judge their evolution because we’ve had some different front and rear tyre specs to evaluate. I must say that learning to adapt the bike to these different compounds has been a challenge. Some parts of the pre season have also been frustrating for me because of the time the weather took from us in Australia, and also the tyre situation a bit here in Qatar and as a result, we weren’t able to extract the maximum from the available testing time. Nevertheless, we are within touching distance of our target, which I think will be inside the top 8 this year.
“I still believe that we have a bike that’s only at 90% so there’s room to improve and we are always getting closer. Yet, going into the start of the season, I’m confident that we can do a good job. This evening’s test was positive as I improved my time quite a lot and we had consistent pace. Also, I was able to go out and ride quickly immediately which is something that I was struggling with on these tyres but I figured that one out today. I’m excited to complete the testing and finally get into racing mode as the competition brings out a bit of extra pressure which some people like and some don’t. For me, I like to be put under pressure and I feel I perform better in that way, so roll on the start of the season and FP1 in a few weeks’ time.”
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