Bradley Smith believes he and his Tech 3 Yamaha squad are 'in a real good situation' ahead of the beginning of the MotoGP season, after testing in Qatar confirmed a setting that favours the Michelin tyres.
The Englishman placed ninth on the timesheets on Wednesday with a fastest lap that was 1 second off the best posted by pace setter Jorge Lorenzo, but it was further probing with wheelbase settings that pleased him most.
“The track here always feel weird to start of with,” began the Yamaha man. “You put what you believe to be the right setting in and it feels like rubbish. Then you go to softer and get the feeling again and then you go back to where you started. You feel like you're doing one big circle during the day.
“We tried a couple of different wheelbases. One is from last year, the other for the Michelins. I feel that we keep going back to the Michelin base and I'm happy. We've triple checked it now. In Sepang. In Phillip Island I wasn't fully convinced but here it's kind of reconfirmed it for me, which is a nice situation to be in.
“[I'm] Actually really confident. We're in a real good situation. From a traction control point of view, from a tyre life point of view… I did my best lap on full race distance tyres. It's really good for where we are. We still to refine what we need but I'm pleasantly surprised and I'm surprising myself as well.”
Fittingly, Smith registered just 38 laps on the first day to ensure he has a sufficient number of tyres available on Thursday and Friday, days in which he hopes to complete a second race simulation of the year.
“I waited until around 8 o'clock before I headed out. The worst of the dirt had been pushed away and there was a line forming. I decided, especially after the last couple of tests, I've ended up with no tyres left on the final day. I knew that Qatar cleans up as the test goes on. We expect to get more benefit from having more tyres available on day two and three. I still feel that we got enough time and we have a good base for the rest of the two days.”