Bradley Smith is entering the unknown with the KTM in Japan after only riding the bike in the wet at Motegi in 2017.

The forecast for Friday’s free practice is predicting rain, but the weekend looks generally dry and Smith says his focus will intends to make the most of the dry track time.

“Last year it was wet all weekend, which means we’ve had no dry running here with the RC16,” he said. “Michelin is going back to the normal rear tyre casing this weekend, which should be good, and I like the track. But it looks like tomorrow could be damp so we'll focus on making the most of the dry time.”

His team-mate, Pol Espargaro, expects to be close to total fitness this weekend after fracturing his collarbone at Aragon, when he had just returned from a three-race lay-off after initially breaking the same left collarbone at Brno in the Czech Republic in August.

“I feel much better now compared to Thailand and should be close to 100 per-cent fitness, only lacking track time,” he said.

“Last year here in the rain was quite good and normally if we’re fast in the wet we’re also fast in the dry. Anyway, the bike has changed a lot since then.”