The bad weather that disrupted Tuesday morning at Sepang was greeted by groans from all teams and riders, but few more so than Bradley Smith, who was unable to put a new KTM chassis and swingarm through its paces.
Smith, who ended Tuesday as the 25th fastest rider, nonetheless managed to make progress on day two in Malaysia, as he improved his personal best lap time by 0.517s while adjusting the geometry and balance of the RC16.
Both the Englishman and team-mate Pol Espargaro have three different chassis to test across the three days at Sepang, and while Smith was unable to put the third of those through its paces, he feels a clear set-up direction was forged.
“Basically we lost all that time in the morning so we had to decide what the priority was,” said Smith.
“It was a lot more than trying the chassis. It was a case of which direction me and Pol need to go in and what we need to do. We both went in the same direction in terms of set-up.
“We believe that we need to be able to brake deeper with the bike. [We asked] 'What do we need to do that?' He went his way and we followed a little behind. Both of us said definitely in the right direction.
“Let's say, from chassis stiffness point of view, it was irrelevant. It needed to be more geometry, set-up and balance. Sometimes stiffness is the fine cherries on top. We don't need that at the moment. It's more a case of, 'Where are the big problems and let's get them fixed.'”
Smith went on to explain that, due to the nature of the 3.4-mile Sepang layout that features three tight hairpins, both KTM riders have made it their priority to improve the machine's feel in heavy braking areas.
Fully assessing the RC16's turning capabilities through faster bends, and its edge grip, can be delayed until Phillip Island, next up on the testing calendar, if the weather plays up again on Wednesday.
“The problem is we lost five hours this morning so it kills all of our programme,” continued Smith. “All these things that we need to get done, we can't.
“We need to do some of it tomorrow but in the worst case scenario I still believe that you can learn quite a lot at Phillip Island with swingarms and bits and pieces. We'll just have to do it there.
“[At Phillip Island we can learn] Nothing about braking stability, which is why I think we tried to nail as much of that as possible here today.
"Braking for turn one, four, turn nine, the last corner, just getting in, seeing how late we can brake, [asking], 'do we use the rear tyre enough? Are we abusing the front too much? How much can you squeeze it into the first corner?'
“That's something you can't do at Phillip Island. There we can see how the edge grip is, how it turns in fast corners.”
On getting to grips with what is needed from the bike's steel frame, Smith added, “Basically you have three identical chassis but they're using different bits and pieces – layouts and thicknesses, to make a difference. That's good.
“Then also we know how to make half-modifications and small ones. You don't have to drastically alter the one that you have. That's one of the strengths that we have in our team.
“Once we get our heads slowly around what we need we can react. Even one race weekend to the next we can already do that, which is quite exciting really.”