Bradley Smith has no doubts over the scale of commitment and resources available to the new KTM MotoGP team.
During an exclusive interview with Crash.net
the Englishman was asked how the Austrian factory's MotoGP resources compared to those of rivals Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, Suzuki and Aprilia.
"Honestly, I would put KTM at the top with someone like Honda. They've taken this project super seriously," Smith declared.
"The amount of personnel in the team is large and they've been running a two-rider test team this year and brought four riders to many of the numerous tests. The fact that they've hired Pol and I and are retaining Mika [Kallio] as a test rider into 2017 shows a strong commitment.
"I would say that their commitment is well up with the likes of Honda, Yamaha and Ducati.
"The only problem of course is experience. As a group and team they haven't done a full season in MotoGP, they haven't been to places like Argentina and Austin and that's what's playing against our challenge. When we turn up to a track and know that your rivals may have up to 20-years experience on that track it's pretty daunting.
"But in terms of commitment and manpower I can't ask for more."
A significant part of that commitment comes in the form of title sponsorship by Red Bull.
"Yes, I'm sure we've got a solid budget and as I said the general support for the project is about the same as the big players," Smith confirmed. "I'm sure that the budget we've got will mean that if we need things, it will be done so if we need to test more, build more or develop more everyone understands that is what will happen."
Smith added that he has roughly double the number of staff available compared to the satellite Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team, where he spent his previous four MotoGP seasons.
"We've probably got double the amount of personnel, so if I had six people working with me at Tech 3, I've got twelve here - it's a serious effort," he said.
"Though I have to say that it comes with positives and negatives, more manpower doesn't always mean better results but it does show intent and gives more attention that can look for those small details that can make all the difference.
"The size of the team adds pressure to achieve, but at this time we need as many hands on deck as possible."
Smith got his first taste of the RC16 during two post-season tests, at Valencia and Jerez.
"I felt comfortable on the bike straight away in terms of the sitting and handlebar position and also what you can feel from the bike through your hands, backside and feet," he said. "If there's any vagueness in that feedback it can be scary, but the bike talks to you well. I think the good feedback may be from the steel chassis that KTM has decided to use.
"I was actually very surprised at what they had been able to achieve in just one year. But because the bike was so understandable it was also clear about what needed to be improved, given that I'd just come away from a really well developed Yamaha M1. That comparison has been a really useful yardstick…"
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