Monster Yamaha Tech 3 riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro struggled to hide their disappointment after forgettable ninth and tenth place finishes in Sunday's Austrian MotoGP.

"The result wasn't too bad," began Smith. "Disappointed that I couldn't get past Redding. I mean, there was quite a big miscalculation on fuel consumption. I had over 10% of fuel left at the end of the race, and the bike was really really really slow. So that was the main thing that was bugging me throughout the race.

"Chassis was pretty decent. It actually got better, I struggled a little bit at the beginning with the soft tyre, then Petrucci locked the front I think three times and nearly cleaned us all out three times. I think he cleaned someone else out [Laverty] at the end of the race. It's not his style, clearly he had a problem, but that lost a lot of time.

"And then Bradl came on track and rode around three laps in front of me and ignored all the blue flags. So that lost me even more time. Once I got going, it was fine, but it was just one of those races that just not a lot went right, and I was so close to being top independent, so that's a positive."

Nevertheless, Smith crossed the finish line 30-seconds from race winner Andrea Iannone, meaning he lost over one-second a lap to the Ducati rider.

"I don't know if we can even make any more progress, you know? At the end of the day, I don't believe that the package that we have can do any more. I think that that's just what it is," he said.

"That's honestly my feeling, we're doing the best we can. I think you can see that from the results this weekend, Pol's not a bad rider, and he did the best he could, I did a little bit better, and next weekend, it could be vice versa. But we always seem to be there or thereabouts on the same piece of tarmac.

"I honestly believe it's just the package that we have isn't up to scratch. It can't do more than it's doing. So we're doing the best we can with it. I don't feel that there's progress, because we have the same stuff that we had since the beginning of the season. What progress are you going to make when you've got the same thing?"

Despite the absence of new parts, Smith and his crew have found some ground through improved set-up and riding technique. But the Englishman is adamant that the satellite teams have lost out during this year's change of tyre and ECU regulations.

"Race results are getting better. Now I can be competitive inside the top ten. There are little things that are getting better that I can see, but in terms of the overall result, it never looks like we're getting anywhere," he said.

"It feels like you're hitting your head against a brick wall every time. You just have to stay somewhat optimistic. Continue putting in the best that you can. Then try and smile about a ninth position. That's honestly the situation right now.

"I think that we're finally seeing the fact of changing these tyres and regulations has not helped satellite teams like us at all. If anything, we've taken a massive blow and a massive kick to the goolies, because it's not giving us anything.

"Before it was, OK, you've got sixth position, so at least you feel like you're succeeding. But now it feels even worse. It's difficult like I said. I don't want to sound all Mr Grumpy, and down and negative, but it's difficult to be positive about ninth place. But that's the situation we have."

Both Smith and Espargaro will cease to be satellite riders at the end of this season, when they switch to the new factory KTM team. The RC16 made its public debut with some demo laps just before Sunday's race.

While Smith insisted he "didn't see it, I was thinking about the race," Espargaro admitted:

"It [looks] beautiful. It's more beautiful when you are struggling! Because when you are struggling, you are not in good shape and you are just thinking how to improve, but also thinking what is coming, that what is coming is better.

"Or maybe worse, or the same. But when everything is going well, you just forget everything and focus on the moment. It was beautiful to see the bike for the first time in public. Still, I know this is not the final bike, but they wanted to show this one, so I'm very happy."

Espargaro remains the top satellite rider in the world championship, in eighth place with 78 points. This time last year Smith was the top satellite rider, in fifth with 97 points.

By Peter McLaren



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