Bradley Smith is taking things one step at time as he feels his way with the KTM RC16.
Smith is working his way through an extensive MotoGP testing programme with test rider Mika Kallio. Smith's 2017 team-mate Pol Espargaro is watching from the sidelines as his contract with Yamaha prevents him from taking part in the test at Jerez.
British rider Smith is trying to garner as much information as possible about the new bike before the winter test ban kicks in.
“We've got such a massive testing programme to get through and I've always been one of those guys who needs to test at 85 or 90 per-cent to figure out if we're going in the right direction or not,” said Smith.
“Yesterday was a tough day and we tried a lot of different things, but nothing was better. But I see days like that as a positive because at least you clarify the things that are not going to work. It's not necessarily a positive day for me, but it is for the engineers.
“Today we went quite extreme in a few steps with ride height, balance and weight distribution to try and get a clear indication and come up with some ideas. Looking at the data, me and Mika ride quite differently but we actually get to the same laps times,” he added.
“The good thing is I'm working with the front and he's working with the rear, so I think if we can mix the two, we can actually start improving the lap time. There were a lot of Michelin tyres around today but I didn't get to try them because we were working on other things.”
Smith is pleased with the environment in the team and says everyone is pulling in the same direction to ensure the project becomes a success.
“In terms of today, it's clear we are not working on performance, we're just trying to gain as much information for me, my crew chief and the engineers. We have a test rider who is riding at a high level and my job initially is to come in and give that information to them,” he said.
“I'm happy with engine braking but again we had quite a lot of work to do with the gearbox here to try and get it set up how I believe we need it. It needed to be refined and it is a lot of work. Now we're working on traction control and power delivery, which is taking time but we are getting our head around it and that's the great thing with Mika because we both go our own ways and we're not afraid to try each other's ideas.
“Mika has done a lot of this kind of work behind closed doors but unfortunately for me, I've got to do it at a MotoGP test and deal with being down on the lap times. It's important to do this work and it will all pay dividends in a few months' time,” he added.
“We're one big team at the moment because we need to try and get this testing programme done and get the bike as good as possible. The relationship has changed between me, Pol and Mika because we understand the big project we have ahead of us and we know that we need every ounce of talent inside this garage to try and get it to work.
“Everything is going hand in hand right now and we're all working. That extra three-rider push is solid and it's important.”
Smith also has no concerns over KTM's use of WP suspension and has been impressed already with the progress made in terms of the bike's chassis.
“The DNA of KTM is a tubular chassis, a steel chassis, and people who have said you could never win on WP have been proven wrong,” he said.
“I know these guys are going to do a fantastic job and what they have done already is a great step.”
Smith was 20th fastest on Thursday with a time of 1m 41.621s, which left him 2.9 seconds behind overall pacesetter and World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR.
Kallio lapped in 1m 40.505s to slot into 15th on the time sheets, 1.7s behind Rea, who is believed to have used a qualifying tyre to set his best lap.