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MotoGP Valencia: Smith excited by KTM adventure

Bradley Smith shares his first impressions of KTM's RC16; focussing early efforts on improving electronics package.
Bradley Smith found out that life as a factory rider is very different compared to what he has been used to in the past.

“Walking into the KTM garage and seeing just how serious they are about this programme and the number of people working together is very impressive,” was how Smith assessed his impressions of the support provided by the Austrian manufacturer.

That opening day ended with the 20th fastest time but there were plenty of positives. Smith completed 52 laps of the Valencia circuit and afterwards gave his initial feedback on his new machine.

“The engine is completely different,” said Smith. “The chassis being steel and tubular is also different, we're using WP suspension but the feeling is there from the bike. It feels like a bike and it has a similar character on the Michelins. The feedback's there and you can understand it.

"The bike reacts to normal changes and it's logical. The engine sound confused me the most though. You don't really know where you are, where the TCS is, because it's so completely different. But each run got a little bit easier, I understood everything a little bit more.”

Mika Kallio has been central to the development of the RC16 but now the fine tuning can begin. While Kallio has MotoGP experience from the past he has spent much of his career in the intermediate class.

The Finn has been regarded as an excellent test rider for the initial development of the bike but Smith and team-mate Pol Espargaro will be able to offer insight compared to a contemporary MotoGP machine.

On the opening day the former Tech3 Yamaha riders worked mostly on the electronics package, tailoring it towards their riding styles.

“Pol and myself seemed to be working on the same things and complaining about the same things. We mainly worked on electronics today, just because mine and Pol's riding style over the last four years are quite different to Mika [Kallio's].

"We've gone more for a direction of trying to roll through corners, rather than stop-and-go like Moto2. I think Mika doesn't mind the bike backing in as much, sliding to the apex and then point and squirting. That's what he knows. The good thing is me and Pol went in a similar direction and had positive feedback from it, so that was good.”

For Smith, who has claimed two MotoGP rostrum finishes, the opening day was filled mostly with positives. While the engine power was strong there was still a lot of work to be done on the bottom end.

“The engine isn't lacking in power, especially fourth, fifth and sixth. In the bottom, it's not lacking power but it just lacks a little bit of structure in terms of power delivery. But that's something that we can work on, with no problem at all.

"I can't really say there is a big weakness, only that probably the difference between old tyres and new tyres is too much for me. The lap time difference between a second run on these tyres and a first run is too big.

"That's something we need to work on but the feedback that you get from the tyres is positive. You understand very clearly what the front tyre's doing, what the rear tyre's doing, so I got some good positives from the frame and iIt didn't really take much adapting to it at all.

"The feedback's there, when you understand the front tyre and the feedback's there, then it's OK. I'm quite pleased with it.”

In addition to the second day of the Valencia test Smith will also be riding the bike at a private test in Jerez next week.

Tagged as: Kallio , Smith , Espargaro , Bradl

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November 16, 2016 6:09 PM

speedbegger: Harsh assessment but I just don't see how this project goes anywhere with Smith at the helm.
He was top satellite rider last year and has scored two top 10 finishes since coming back from a terrible injury. Don't really understand why you'd devote your entire account to bashing one of the most likeable and intelligent riders in the paddock.


November 20, 2016 7:10 PM

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