Bradley Smith found his efforts to complete a full evening of MotoGP testing in Qatar frustrated by Michelin's tyre allocation, as his experiences of a front tyre compound were unsatisfactory.
The Englishman was critical of the tyre selection Michelin brought to the Qatar test, likening it to 'a jumble sale' on Wednesday, something that was confirmed a day later having 'been advised that four of the five compounds aren't recommended, let's say, for usage.'
After several laps on a front tyre and seeing team-mate Pol Espargaro crash on the compound, the Englishman opted to save his preferred rubber until Friday, when he plans to complete around 60 laps in the final session before the season gets underway.
“We did 14 laps. I think we're all in the s**thole together,” started Smith. “I mean Michelin is doing the best that they can and they are trying to advise everyone the best that they can. We've pretty much been advised that four out of the five compounds aren't recommended for usage.
“Basically we're left with one so that means we have four tyres to spread over three nights. I've decided that I want to do my test on the last night. I didn't want to go out today and start something that I can't finish. For me tomorrow it will be going out at 6pm and running through the programme until it's set and done, rather than splitting it fifty-fifty. It's a difficult situation to be in.
“I had a problem with the front tyre. I thought I'd come in and see what other people's comments were. They weren't positive. My team-mate changed his bike quite a lot to basically load the front. He did a couple of laps and then ended up on his backside. I think it was the right decision. Like I said, everyone is in this difficult situation and we're trying to do the best we can and guide our technicians to make a good decision to bring the right tyres for the GP.”
Smith's concerns were echoed by several others, including Cal Crutchlow, who called the allocation 'a disaster' on Thursday. While the Tech 3 Yamaha man felt the situation “doesn't look very good for them [Michelin]”, he acknowledged that the French firm's experience as sole supplier is still in its infancy.
“I'm glad it happened now,” continued Smith. “It's a learning experience. It's better that it happens at a test than a GP. If we're sat around with only four tyres at a GP it's going to look really bad. It'll be interesting to see how everyone plays it. This is the situation.
“I think it's better for our future because Michelin will start to load the spare truck full of other options and we'll go from there. They know what they're doing. They've learnt from it and I believe there are already phone calls going on now to rectify it. It doesn't look good. Especially if we turn up for a GP [and this happens]. We'll have to find a way of getting around it.”
On Wednesday, Smith had said of the allocation, “I think they had stock left over and they just did a jumble sale. Honestly the allocation looks like a jumble sale. I have no idea of their concept. It's like, 'Oh, we've had this and we've had that so we're going to throw it in there. You tell us if it works.'”
On a positive note, 25-year old Smith was pleased to see all riders have access to the full range of compounds at this test. In Sepang and Phillip Island, factory riders received certain compounds before the satellite teams, leaving riders like Smith to wait until late on in the test to sample a tyre that may be more suited to the circuit or his machine.
At Qatar, this hasn't been an issue. “The good thing is everyone is being treated fairly, like it should be. Pretty much every test we've been on there has been different priority levels. It's supposed to be the same all the way down the line for all of us riders and that hasn't been the case.
“The nice thing is in these days leading up to the grand prix it is legit and everyone is on a level playing field, which is a nice situation to be in. Like is said, we have to question the tyres that we have. At least we have tyres that we'll have for the race rather than second guessing or only having one.”