Bradley Smith feels he can fight for the top satellite position after a testing day which saw him eventually qualify ninth for the Malaysian MotoGP encounter at Sepang.
Having changed many settings on his Tech 3 Yamaha, Smith was unable to 'nail his fast lap' in FP3, meaning he had to proceed through the 15-minute Q1 shootout that precedes Q2.
Still, Smith managed to salvage ninth position and feels he has race pace strong enough to challenge the top 'Satellite' machines on Sunday.
“It was a good recovery today because we had to go to Q1. I wasn't able to nail my fast lap in FP3 and that left me in Q1. I did my first two runs using the hard tyre and then when I used the soft tyre I just couldn't take enough advantage of it.
“In qualifying it was important to start on the third row because it puts me ahead of Aleix, Pol and Barbera which is good because I think they were three important guys to be in front of on the grid. Maverick is beside me on the grid so I'll try and jump at the start. Dovi is there too so if I can get in front of those guys and then go after the top satellite rider tomorrow that's the target.
“It's difficult when you're not feeling great with a new setting to be able to just get to the limit on a fresh set of tyres. The softer tyres are worth half a second a lap around here so you need to make sure that you can extract that from the tyre and you only really get one lap out of a fresh set of tyre because after that you lose that perfect grip.”
Speaking of the changes made to his machine, Smith added he had gone in the direction of the Movistar Yamaha men. He added, “We changed a massive amount on the bike today and went in the direction of the factory team. It's definitely helped us around here. We're using a different setting to our normal one but it's working well. My race pace is pretty good and I believe that I can fight for top satellite tomorrow.
“I'd forgotten how physical it is in Q1 because you come straight into it after FP4 and only have eight minutes to recover from doing work on your race pace and then it's straight into qualifying. You go out with new tyres and have to try and set the time and then you might need to go out again. Then with Q2 afterwards you definitely know that you've had a workout! It's nice to turn things around because today we improved by 1.6s from yesterday's lap time.”