While not sounding as enthusiastic on the recent improvements to KTM's RC16 as team-mate Pol Espargaro, Bradley Smith nonetheless feels the factory made a “good step forward” at the MotoGP test at Valencia, but wants further confirmation before drawing any conclusions.

Espargaro repeatedly described himself as “super pumped” after improving his race pace by around half a second thanks to a new chassis, swingarm, wheel rims and electronics settings that were supplied over the two days.

Having worked through Espargaro’s Tuesday programme a day later, Smith was also positive regarding the changes, and said he was “super happy” with the improvement in race pace. The Englishman ended the two days with the 13th fastest time, 1.1s back of pace setter Marc Marquez.

“The main objective was to get some clear direction with this bike, especially the rear of the bike, searching for grip,” said Smith. “Our second half of the race is still our weak area so we’re focusing on old tyres and trying to improve.

“We’ve been quite meticulous. I had one programme yesterday and Pol had the opposite. And then today we crossed over. The guys have a lot of data. We’ll do a similar programme at Jerez. Then during the winter we’ll decide the course for next year.

“I improved my lap time from the weekend. Even just five laps into my first run this morning, I wasn’t really going for a time attack. From that point of view I believe the new parts we had today are a good step forward. Of course we always want to do more, to start pushing the guys in the top ten. That’s what we’re going to work towards.”

On his response being a good deal more restrained than Espragaro’s on Wednesday evening, Smith said, “I don’t show my emotion as much as he does. At the end of the day it’s because you’re able to do a mid-30s and start pushing the guys in front. I don’t see that on our lap times. It’s still a 1m 31s.

“Whether we can do better lap times over a longer period, I’m super happy about that. The second half of our races is where we have to improve the most. I think we’ll continue to work towards. Pol likes one of the products more than I do. But then again because there’s two of them, we never know if they’re completely the same. So that’s something that we need to confirm.

“I see some positives but not as over the moon as what he does. But, [we’re] different riders looking for different things with slightly different set-ups. We’ll continue to analyse everything and see what happens in Jerez, see how the parts work there and then we’ll be able to make a conclusion.”

Smith and KTM will be present at Jerez for a three-day test next week.



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