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MotoGP: Bradley Smith to ‘bat around’ with split set-up

“I honestly believe we're going to have a bike '1' and bike '2' this year. One that is set-up with last year in mind and the other that we're evolving with the Michelins” - Bradley Smith.
Bradley Smith predicts that he will start each of this year's MotoGP rounds with two very different set-ups on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machines.

One bike will be close to what he would have run with the former Bridgestone tyres, while the other will 'evolve' based on ever-increasing information about the new Michelin tyres.

The reason for the split is that the French rubber has behaved very differently in the two official outings since the end of the 2015 season.

In November's Valencia test, major set-up changes were required for the Michelins, with many riders suffering front-end falls. But by Sepang earlier this month, Michelin had made a substantial step with their front tyres and, in turn, there was far less deviation from the old Bridgestone settings.

Now the question is how much set-up will need to be modified at this week's Phillip Island test.

“What Michelin brought [to Sepang] was totally different to Valencia. In Valencia we had to radically change the set-up of the bike and [at Sepang] we're much more back to usual. Now it depends what Michelin brings to Phillip Island,” Smith explained.

“I honestly believe we're going to have a bike '1' and bike '2' this year. One that is maybe set-up with last year in mind and the other that we're evolving with the Michelins. Going back and forth. It's going to be key to have those two options. Basically on Fridays we'll bat around with the two bikes to try and get a direction in which we need to go. I think each track is going to require a different [solution].

“What comes to one race might work brilliantly, what comes to another might not. Trying to be as versatile as possible and trying to get as much information is vital.”

Smith's comments about the shrinking gap between the Bridgestone and Michelin tyres at Sepang was underlined by factory Yamaha stars Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi both preferring a 2016 M1 closely based on last year's bike, as now used by Tech 3, rather than the experimental 'Michelin' version with the fuel tank filler moved behind the rider.

All factory riders were also offered some development Michelin front tyres to try at Sepang, which Lorenzo felt was worth half-a-second. Smith, who finished the test 10th overall but was the only rider to complete a race simulation, doesn't expect to get those tyres until the third and final test.

“From what I hear from the factory riders the new wider profile front tyres have given everyone an even better feeling, which I don't think we'll get until the Qatar test so we'll just have to deal with that,” Smith said.

“I think the good thing for Yamaha is that it is similar to last year. They haven't got caught napping with a lack of work over the winter.”

Indeed, despite the tyre and ECU change, Smith - sixth and the top satellite rider in last year's championship - has been able to feel improvements in most of the areas he was struggling with last year.

“Obviously I was calling for something to make the bike more manageable at the beginning of the races. Something that doesn't overload the tyres and squash them as much. There's definitely something in this new package that is helping with that.

“I'm not sure what it is but the operation of everything is working to help me a bit more. I still need to work with the bike to make it grip better on the brakes when the tyres start to go off. We still rely a lot on the rear tyre to slow down the motorcycle. We can't just yank on the front brakes to get it to stop.

“Also, turning in is also better for me. I look at where I want to go and the bike goes in rather than running past the apex. A lot of things we struggled with last year is what it's doing now so I'm pleased with it.”

Smith will be back on track alongside his MotoGP rivals at Phillip Island tomorrow.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Smith, Sepang MotoGP test Feb 2016
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February 17, 2016 8:04 AM

colin.lee.378537: Smith finished 16th? I'm confused as I thought he'd achieved the 6th fastest time on the Wed., leaving the last day free to do the 'race' simulation.
They're maybe going off the combined times for all 3 days which doesn't take into account times that were set using on the soft tyre. Its crazy how we always think of the Tech 3 bikes as being very similar to the factory Yams but in reality they are quite a few evolutionary steps behind at the start of the season and even more by the end.


February 16, 2016 7:07 PM

"Now the question is how much set-up will need to be modified at this week's Phillip Island test. " I suspect the weather will not be kind 17/18 feb..... Wednesday: Cloudy. High (70%) chance of showers in the east, medium (40%) chance elsewhere. Winds SW 20 to 30 km/h. Daytime maximum temperatures between 17 and 20. Low-Moderate. max temp 19c Thursday: Mostly cloudy. Medium (40%) chance of drizzle in the morning and afternoon. Winds S/SW 15 to 20 km/h tending S/SE in the evening. max temp 22c

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