Bradley Smith is unperturbed by his position of 15th on the time sheets in opening free practice at Valencia in Spain after focusing on race set-up with his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine on Friday.
Smith set a best lap in 1m 32.508s and although team-mate Pol Espargaro was eighth fastest overall (1m 31.892s), the 24-year-old Briton said he purposely concentrated on race runs with his satellite M1 and is confident of gaining straight passage to Q2 on Saturday.
“We had slightly different strategies today in what I was using and what he [Pol Espargaro] was trying to get out of the bike. I was trying to focus a lot on race runs and consistency and working out where the tyre drops: we have to do 30 laps on Sunday so it's going to be a tough race,” said Smith.
“We were figuring out exactly what we needed and we very consistent and did a hell of a lot of laps in the high '32s. There are a few things we can improve on and what I would like to see is low '32s and then get into the '31s when we have a new tyre.
“We tried to have a bit of a smart day today, working in the right direction and working on both bikes and trying out a few ideas so we're not chasing our backsides too much tomorrow,” he added.
“I didn't try the hard rear because I was trying to do some long runs on the medium but from what I was hearing in feedback from the other Yamaha riders, it was always lacking in something, so I think medium will be the option.”
Smith revealed that he was overtaken on the outside by Ducati's Andrea Iannone at turn 13 and says he is losing time in the final part of the lap, with a lack of edge grip his biggest problem.
“We seem to be losing a lot of time in turn 8 and 9 ad turn 13 with edge grip and I had [Andrea] Iannone ride around the outside of me at turn 13. Any time another rider rides around the outside of you, you're highly embarrassed so we've got some improvements to do there!” Smith said.
“Top ten, I'm not too worried about because I think today a '31.7 or a '31.8 would have got you into the top ten, which is doable. It wasn't completely full of soft tyres, although it did seem to make a difference. Looking at the speed of Valentino [Rossi], Pol [Espargaro] and Jorge [Lorenzo], the Yamaha is going well here so I'm confident we'll be able to be inside that top ten.”
Smith holds sixth place in the championship standings ahead of the final round on Sunday and says he is disappointed the season is coming to a close after one of the most enjoyable years of his career to date.
“It's been a great season and it's almost disappointing that it's coming to an end. I've enjoyed myself a lot more this year than in previous years and results-wise things are looking good,” he said.
“It'd be nice to have a break because next year's going to be just as hard and every year seems to be getting more and more physical and harder each time.
“I'm excited as well with what's going to come with new tyres, new electronics and things like that. I'm in a secure sixth position at the last round within reason and I'm happy that don't feel I have to show anything and I've done enough so far that I don't feel I need to end the season with an amazing result.”
The Tech 3 rider feels the huge interest in this weekend's title finale created by the title battle involving Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo and the controversy between Rossi and Marquez is ultimately good for the sport.
“It's good for the sport the people that are going to be watching this race and the audience they are getting out of it and at the end of the day you have to make it interesting in MotoGP sometimes otherwise it turns into a little bit of a procession,” said Smith, who revealed he was under no orders from Yamaha ahead of the final race as team-mates Lorenzo and Rossi dispute the title.
“With what I know from Yamaha this year, they will let us race and what will be, will be,” he said.