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MotoGP: Smith ditches Yamaha style on new KTM

"There's not many corners here where you can try to push a handlebar without being at 150 or 180km/h, so it makes your bum twitch!" - Bradley Smith.
After spending all four of his previous MotoGP seasons on a Tech 3 Yamaha, Bradley Smith is resetting his riding style to suit the new KTM RC16.

"It's quite different riding the KTM here to what I'm used to," the Englishman said after day one of testing at Phillip Island. "With the KTM you have to ride a little bit more aggressively, the bike responds to a more aggressive riding style, and that's quite strange in a high-speed circuit like Phillip Island, because normally you have to be quite smooth here."

Smith, who was 22nd and last on the timesheets during the opening day, added: "It's kind of going back to my old style almost. I suppose I had four years of drilling it out of me, [people] telling me to ride smooth and ride in a more Yamaha style, and this bike doesn't respond to that.

"So it's just trying to figure it out and go back to what I knew before. Here's one of the harder tracks because for example in Sepang, most corners are more point and squirt; you can actually dive in, hit an apex and get out.

"The corners are super long here, so you can't really do that. You have to work out how to attack the corners in the best way for the lap time.

"Throttle control is alright, you can get away with that. It's how you attack going in; how much and when you squeeze the front brake, how much you use the rear brake going in and through the middle of the corner to get it to turn.

"And even hanging off the thing. If you hang off the thing, you can pull it round the corner. You can actually push the handlebars with this thing and it accepts it. It's just learning those type of things.

"Phillip Island's almost scary, because there's not many corners where you can try to push a handlebar without being at 150 or 180 km/h, so it makes your bum twitch! But in the end, I just kept on playing in the slow stuff, because it was the only place I felt safe.

"It's such a high-speed track that as soon as you start to feel more confident, the lap times start tumbling down, so I've got no worries about [position on the timesheet]. I've managed to figure out sector 3 and sector 4, but at the beginning of the lap I'm still suffering a little bit. But in general I'm pleased.

"So we'll just continue through the testing program. I think we have a chassis to try tomorrow. Pol tried it today and seemed to have some positive comments, so we'll modify one of mine and go in that kind of direction."

Smith did confess to being concerned by the time it took to find a base set-up for the machine at a brand new circuit, a situation KTM will face at Argentina and Austin during its first full MotoGP season.

"It was a little bit worrying because we did, say, 25 laps, it probably took us the best part of three hours. So I said 'we are already into FP3 here, boys', and that's the truth. So it was a dress rehearsal. Qatar test day one will be another dress rehearsal and we'll continue to try to improve in that area.

"We know our weaknesses, and that's a good thing. By doing these dress rehearsals, you learn where you are struggling and where you're not, but one thing I will say is we are getting closer and closer. We are a lot closer now than we were when we turned up in Valencia or Jerez on the first day.

"So we are learning the formula which the KTM needs to stay within for day one, and the more information we gain, the better we are getting. Going to Qatar is going to be a blessing, because we've got the three-day test. Argentina we can get away with to a certain extent, but Texas really scares me.

"Turning up there with 22 corners, you're making a gearbox, engine brake, traction control, everything for that place? It's tough enough at the best of times... But that's what we're here to do. We're here to learn, and that's why the second year is going to be even better."

Team-mate Pol Espargaro was 17th fastest on day one.

By Peter McLaren

Tagged as: KTM , Smith

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February 16, 2017 7:07 AM

Nakasone: Yamaha riders who switched to other bikes in the past easily attained success (remember Melandri 's and Elias' wins?). Are we going to see that from Smith?
Rossi on Ducati raises questions about validity of this point.

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