Bradley Smith has spoken of his pleasure at securing Tom Jojic as crew chief for the 2017 MotoGP campaign, when he will line up in KTM's factory team.
The Englishman worked with Jojic – currently the leader of the Austrian factory's on-track support team – in the past, while competing aboard Tech 3's Mistral chassis in the Moto2 class.
Describing the appointment as “the right fit”, Smith feels this past experience will aid his adaption process over the winter as he seeks to make the KTM package competitive as quickly as possible.
“I'm really pleased with it, to be honest. Our parting words at Moto2 was always, 'We'll see each other in a factory team', and now here I am. It's been good, the key person I asked for from the word go. I had a fantastic relationship with him in Moto2, I think our results with that bike still haven't been beaten by anybody.
“So he seems the right fit, he's working within KTM, he's already got a working relationship there. He's got MotoGP experience, and we've worked together. I think that's important as well.
“In the last four years, we've probably changed as individuals, but we've worked with each other and we know strengths and weaknesses. That hopefully will make the start a little bit easier.
“For me the crew chief is very, very important. Especially if you're starting a new project like we are. Someone that believes, and someone that's willing sometimes to try, and someone that also knows that sometimes the rider just needs a clip round the ear and sending back out on the bike, to go and do it.
“Electronics are becoming more and more important, but still a good crew chief in terms of the orchestra, if you like, he pulls everyone's strings. That's important.”
Smith qualified a fine tenth on Saturday, lapping the Valencia circuit just 0.8s slower than pole sitter Jorge Lorenzo. He is hopeful of lower temperatures on race day, which he feels would ensure Michelin's soft rear tyre doesn't wear extensively.
“The tyres seem pretty straightforward. The new profile doesn't seem to work as well as what people had said from Brno. I think just generally from the track layout, it's a bit more tight and twisty here.
“It seems to be missing something. I don't if it's the bigger profile squashing more, or it's got more contact patch in the straight braking, so when you roll into the corner it's a different shape. Once you're in the middle of the corner, you're alright, but anything in between, it doesn't seem quite there.
“And Yamaha, you have to be able to trust that front even before you start looking at the apex, you've got to know you'll be alright. Whereas the Honda, they can get it sideways a little bit and then drop it in.
“Seeing the guys crash on the harder front tire puts my mind at ease that that would be a risk for them to use it in the race. It also plays into our favor, because if they have to run out tire, that they struggle a bit more with the softer compound.”