Bradley Smith got his first ride on next year's Tech 3 Yamaha package during the opening day of post-season testing at Valencia.
As has been the case for the past few seasons, Tech 3 were handed this year's Factory Yamahas, which finished first and second in the world championship with Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.
While Smith and team-mate Pol Espargaro will not have the full seamless gearbox, instead continuing with seamless upshifts only, the Englishman revealed they could be even closer to 2016 Factory spec should the new Michelin tyres require significant design changes.
“At the moment my 2016 bike is Valentino's or Jorge's from 2015,” Smith confirmed. “[Getting further upgrades] depends on how drastic we need to go regarding the Michelins.
“In previous years it was kind of 'that's the bike you are getting and that's it'. At the moment things are a bit open ended because we don't know how much we will need to adapt to the Michelins.
“Yamaha have said if they do need to build a completely different bike for these tyres then they would be open to giving all four riders the same material to start the season with. We'll wait and see.”
Smith finished day one of testing in eighth place, but just 0.446s from fastest man Marc Marquez. In the process the Englishman solved some mysteries regarding the time gap to the official riders this season.
“I've gone through the system two times [in the last two seasons], where I've been staring at data all year long going 'how the hell can they do that? Then you ride the same bike [at the end of the year] and you can do it as well.
“I got off the bike and once again it's like 'why couldn't I have had that bike this year?'. But it is what it is. Now I can understand why Jorge and Vale were doing what they were doing.
“I can't say I could definitely follow them, but the gap is not 28 seconds. I'm not a rider that should finish 28 seconds behind. Let's say I was 90% OK in myself with 10% [of doubt], then that 10% has been wiped out today now I know what they have. It makes the situation more clear in my mind.”
Asked to describe the biggest difference with his new bike, Smith replied: “They've just improved a little bit everywhere, but one of the main things especially is with the front. It doesn't overload the front tyre quite as much and certainly turns a little bit better as well. And it has a slightly different style of electronics that just makes the bike a little bit easier to ride. Kind of what I expected.”
Given the number of front-end falls seen on Tuesday, Smith also gave an insight into the danger area with the Michelin front.
“Seems to be off-brake and initial touch of throttle. That seems to be the danger area. Actually on-brake seems to be ok. You just have to be a little bit smoother in that transition and pay a bit more attention,” he declared.
“I think a lot of riders were going back to maybe a Bridgestone tendency and especially when you've got grip in the rear and are trying to go for a lap time. I had my own moments there as well on the new bike. Just where I was like 'I've got confidence now' and flicked it in like I would do normally. That's not the way to do it.
“They [the Michelins] just need to ride in a slightly different way. You can't expect two manufactures to build exactly the same tyres. As riders we have to adjust.”
Unlike the factory Yamaha team, Smith does not expect to test the 2016 single ECU system this week.
“No, basically we don't have the manpower. They [Yamaha] are focussing more on the factory team and we can focus on learning the Michelins and different bike, rather than throwing something else in the works as well.”