Bradley Smith feels KTM worked toward limiting some of the RC16's weaknesses at a recent test at Aragon, and revealed in a recent interview with German website Speedweek.com that he is hopeful that new parts sampled there will be ready in time for next weekend's race at Brno.

26-year old Smith was joined at the Spanish track by regular team-mate Pol Espargaro, KTM test rider Mika Kallio and Moto2 challenger Miguel Oliveira at a recent mid-season shakedown to drive development further forward in the wake of positive weekends at Assen and the Sachsenring.

The Englishman has long established the turning of RC16 as an area in need of most improvement, with recent machine upgrades and settings changes resulting in strength under braking and acceleration.

Now it is a case of KTM producing enough of the new parts sampled at the Aragon test to have ready to race for the upcoming double-header at Brno and the all-important home race at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

"I mean, we tried a lot of things," Smith told Speedweek.com. "A two-and-a-half week period is maybe not long enough to bring all of the parts to Brno. We took some positive steps that I was really pleased with in Aragon.

"We learnt a lot, what points are touching our weak areas at the moment. Of course KTM and everyone wants to put on a good show at Speilberg. We'll be pushing to bring the best possible package. It's a matter of can we produce everything in time.

"I think we're always working on turning. That's one of the main focuses of all three riders, to be honest. That's continuing to be our focus point now. We have a bike that brakes really well. We also have a bike that's quite strong in acceleration. Turning seems to be our weaker our area."

In light of Pol Espargaro's points tally being six points higher than Smith's, the Englishman also stated there were never any doubts regarding KTM's commitment toward him for 2018 - the second of his two-year deal with the Austrian factory -, even if it took him slightly longer to get up to speed than his team-mate.

"Personally, I had zero doubts [about staying on for 2018]," he said. "At the end of the day, it did take me a little bit longer but I would say that was more in the winter tests than in the beginning of the season.

"To be honest, I wasn't allowed to ride a motorcycle from November until Sepang. Then from Sepang to Phillip Island, because I was in the DTC doing all of my recovery with my knee. So I was rusty when the season started.

"The good thing was I was always there with the lap time at the end of each test. This racing season, I think I've been able to get up to speed better. The more that I ride the bike, the better I get. At the Aragon test I think I was the fastest guy until the middle of the first day. I think that problem is behind us now.

"I think that Pol has found a setting that works really well for him. He's always been one of those guys that can produce one lap time. In his whole career I remember he was on pole a lot in 125s and Moto2. He always seems to qualify a bit better than he races, so that's his strength.

"Whereas mine is the opposite. I always race better than I qualify. I think it's riding styles. If you look at the Sachsenring me, Mika and Pol ended up within three or four seconds of each other at the end of 30 laps. Three riders, three different styles but all very close."

By Neil Morrison

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