Reigning MotoE title runner-up Bradley Smith is excited at what he belives will be an 'even closer' 2020 season.

The electric-bike class completed their opening pre-season test at Jerez in mid-March, just before the spread of coronavirus brought Europe to a standstill.

The outing marked the first chance to try the latest upgrades to the Energica machines, including revised Michelin tyres and Ohlins front suspension, resulting in a lap time improvement of 1.5s compared to a year ago.

"I was very surprised with the improvement in lap times," said Smith, who was also impressed by the closeness of the competition: "We were all within approximately a second and a half of each other. Last season there was a high level, and everything indicates that this year everything will be even closer.

"I think we have all learned from last season; In 2019 we had a great campaign, it was just a matter of adjusting some small details that all of us riders could detect throughout the season.

"There are many aspects still to try and see how they evolve: the series is still growing. As I said, we are all very close and I am very excited. I'm just waiting for the start of the season, and whenever it gets underway we will be ready."

Smith - remaining with the One Energy (Sepang) team alongside his Aprilia test and wild-card duties - lost out on the inaugural title by just eleven points to Matteo Ferrari, despite not winning any of the six races.

Assuming he is not called up by Aprilia to replace Andrea Iannone in MotoGP this season, pending the outcome of the Italian's appeal, Smith feels the main area where he needs to improve in MotoE is the one-lap Superpole qualifying format.

"Single lap times are the main aspect where I can improve. The pace seems to be there, especially on the last day of testing, where we found a good balance on the bike and I felt very confident," said the Englishman, who qualified just seventh for half of the races last season but stood on the podium on four out of six occasions.

"As always, my race pace is good, but as we know, in MotoE, E-Pole is essential -and this year it seems that the grid is very competitive, so we will have to try to always be on one of the first two rows if we want to obtain good results."

Ferrari (Gresini) and Eric Granado (Avintia) were the fastest riders during the Jerez test, and both unsurprisingly feature in Smith's list of main rivals.

"Ferrari started pre-season very well and was the one who set the pace at Jerez," Smith said.

"I'm convinced that Granado will be more consistent than last year; We know that he is always fast during testing, especially at the Spanish tracks, but now he has more experience at other circuits and will have learned from last season," Smith said.

"As I said, the level is very competitive in 2020, so we cannot rule out rivals such as Xavier Simeon, Mike Di Meglio and Niki Tuuli, who last year had a very fast pace."

There are also some fast and very experienced 'rookies' to look out for: "It is difficult to single one of them out, but I think we have to highlight Dominique Aegerter, who after just three days was already among the fastest riders at Jerez.

"We will also have to pay attention to Jordi Torres: Even though he was missing something with his single lap time, his pace during the three days was very good. I think the level will be even higher than last season, and it will be even more competitive."

Nonetheless, Smith's targets are clear.

"The main objective is to achieve the title. Last season we were close; at every round except for Race 1 in Misano we were always at the front, and we reached the last round with a mathematical chance of winning the title," he declared.

"In the end we couldn't win either of the two races in Valencia, and although we finished runners-up, we want the title this year."

But with the second pre-season MotoE test cancelled and opening event as part of the Spanish MotoGP weekend postponed, racing seems a distant memory at the moment.

And like most in western Europe, Smith is currently in lockdown.

"I'm in the south of France; right now we are in total confinement, which means that we can only leave the house to go to the supermarket or the pharmacy. Fortunately, I have a balcony that I have turned into a gym, and that helps us to deal with the situation a little better," he said.

"For the last 15 years I have spent most of my time on the road, so I have learned how to keep up my training even with little equipment. It's amazing what you can do; it's not perfect and the situation is not ideal, but I think it will be possible to keep in shape during the weeks in which we are in quarantine.

"For someone who is normally quite busy, going from one place to another throughout the year, the feeling of being at home all the time is a bit strange - but it is for the right reasons.

"We must be responsible and follow the indications for each country; the better we behave, the sooner everything will be resolved."

Latest 2020 MotoE Calendar (March 26)

Round

Date

Race

Circuit

1

3 May

Jerez (postponed)

Circuito de Jerez - Angel Nieto

2

28 June

Netherlands

TT Circuit Assen

3

16 August

Austria

Red Bull Ring - Spielberg

4

12 September

San Marino

Misano

5

13 September

San Marino

Misano

6

28 November

Valencia

Comunitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo

7

29 November

Valencia

Comunitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo