Bradley Smith is under no illusions over the challenge that lies ahead in 2016 as the British rider switches to race mode for the opening round of the MotoGP World Championship in Qatar this weekend.
Smith finished a strong sixth in the championship in 2015, but with the introduction of a control ECU and a new sole tyre supplier in Michelin this season, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider acknowledges that his job will be as tough as ever on the satellite YZR-M1.
“The winter months have passed, so now it's finally time to switch on to race mode and get ready for the first GP of 2016, which I am very excited about,” said Smith.
“We've had a really constructive off-season, which kicked off in Malaysia and despite the tricky weather there, as well as later again at Phillip Island, I feel we completed a lot of valuable work.
“This is just what we needed before the start of what will be a very competitive year. I intend to continue from where I left off last season, but I am under no illusions that it will be any less competitive than last year,” he added.
“Still, we have taken every necessary step to be prepared and I'm feeling optimistic about my chances.
“This GP is always unusual due to it being at night and also over four days, but I am confident of starting strongly in FP1 and then go from there. It will be great to be back racing again and I can't wait to get going.”
Smith was 13th fastest on the combined times during the MotoGP Qatar test earlier in March, 1.156 seconds behind the factory Movistar Yamaha of world champion Jorge Lorenzo, who ended the three-day test half-a-second clear of closest challenger Scott Redding (Yakhnich Octo Pramac Ducati).