Not even a technical problem in the closing laps of the Sunday's MotoGP curtain raiser could quell the enthusiasm, as Bradley Smith expressed delight at the performance of KTM's RC16 in Qatar.
Making his race debut for the Austrian factory, Smith was engaged in a tight battle with team-mate Pol Espargaro for 16th place during the first 14 laps, until mechanical issues forced him to drop his pace toward the race's end.
Smith would ultimately finish in 17th, 39 seconds off race winner Maverick Viñales and six back of Espargaro, but his spirits remained high some time after the finish.
“I'm super pleased,” he said, referencing not just the race finish for both riders – KTM's first in the premier class since 2005 -, but the pace of both men, which was around 1.3-1.4s per lap off the fastest runners.
“This is the opening night for this new project,” beamed the Englishman. “It was quite a good success. The lap times that me and Pol were doing to the front guys was better than we expected.
“I mean, just making a motorcycle to get to the finish isn't easy especially in those conditions. We saw a lot of guys making mistakes. I'm super pleased with what we were able to do today.
“The last five laps I had a few technical problems. I couldn't fight with Pol, which was disappointing. But it was a good battle, the two orange guys out there.
“In general we did the best that we could. A big thanks to all the KTM crew and we'll see what happens in Argentina.”
Smith had set himself a goal of scoring a point at the first race. While that did not quite come to fruition, he believes the team has established a working base set-up for the upcoming rounds.
“It certainly gives us a lot of data and a lot of information. I think we need to be proud of what we've done here. At least this gives us our base and now we can start to work. It gives us a lot of information.
“Pol was using a different rear tyre than I was and we had some different electronics as well. They will be able to study all this information and I think make some good improvements so we're ready for Argentina.”