17 March 2016
MotoGP Qatar: Smith staying positive despite FP1 tumble
'It's not ideal to start like that because it doesn't give you the confidence you need, but I wasn't actually too displeased with where I was at before that point' - Bradley Smith.
Bradley Smith is taking heart from his performance in FP1 in Qatar prior to his turn 13 spill, although he admits his opening day tumble wasn't the confidence boost he was looking for.
The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider, under scrutiny this week at the opening round of the MotoGP World Championship after suggesting he was unlikely to be retained by the team in 2017, came off with two minutes remaining but fortunately escaped unscathed.
He lapped in 1m 56.524s to finish 11th on the times, almost half-a-second behind team-mate Pol Espargaro in sixth.
“In turn 13, literally as I touched throttle, I tucked the front and it's been somewhere that I was struggling in the test because I was losing two and a half to three tenths through turns 13 and 14,” said Smith.
“As soon as I put the front tyre in this evening and tried to go fast through there, I tucked the front. We've been concentrating a lot on the front forks and I thought it was maybe coming from there, but it could actually be coming from the rear end, so we need to understand and adjust exactly what we need.
“Pressing in a fast corner like that is not ideal and there's not a lot of warning that I can manage as well. I was happy with everything up until then and I did a long run with hard tyres and felt confident,” he added.
“We improved the electronics from what we had in the test and everything was going in the right direction, I was letting go of the brakes early and carrying the speed through the corners – everything the team asked me to do.
“It's not ideal to start like that because it doesn't give you the confidence you need, but I wasn't actually too displeased with where I was at before that point, riding good, and the lap times seemed to be coming.”
Smith prefers the 45-minute practice format, which he says plays into his hands in terms of getting the most from his satellite M1 in a shorter space of time.
“I'm glad we're back on this 45-minute session because it puts riders under pressure and they don't have time to warm up into it, you have to turn up and be sharp and ready to go and you don't have all day,” he said.
“I always feel that I'm able to get the best out of the bike and I made good plans for my session, so I was happy to be back to running that amount of time.
“Crashing now and having to wait until tomorrow to rectify anything is a bit of a pain in the arse, but it is what it is.”
He damaged a set of winglets in the spill, but the British rider wasn't too concerned and says he is more focused on getting the best from his Michelin tyres.
“We damaged a set [wings] and we might have to just run the one set or take them off completely; we didn't really play around too much because the track conditions, the way that they were, we were more trying to play with the two sets of tyres to try and get some information on how the new front tyre works here and how the soft tyre is working here,” Smith said.
“It's more for us about the electronics than the wings at this point. For me, the wings are the kind of thing you play with more in FP3 and FP4 and not so much at this point.
“We've already compared setting-wise [with factory Yamahas] to see what we can do from the fast corner issues that I am having. There are a couple of small differences but we are really close.
“It's something I'm really pleased with because we haven't really followed their direction as such, but we've ended up in the same place and that's nice,” he added.
“From a riding point of view, I'll have to check further on this evening and compare with the data and go from there. But certainly, having P1 and P2 data to look over is one of the great things about being inside Yamaha and this team and it speeds the learning process forward so I'll have a look and see what I need to improve for tomorrow.
“It's the closest bike we've ever had chassis-wise so we can really do an overlay with the data.”
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