When Maverick Vinales shot to the top of opening free practice for the Misano MotoGP with a late lap on the hard rear tyre, rival teams had no choice but to react, Aprilia Bradley Smith explained.

"I think Maverick threw a curveball for everyone at the end of FP1 with the hard tyre," Smith said. "It meant you saw everyone trying it this afternoon, which made me laugh. It's part of the process, we have to do it."

The Englishman duly fitted a new hard rear tyre for his second run of the afternoon, but it only confirmed that - for the RS-GP at least – the soft or medium is better.

"It's surprising, the grip is not that bad compared to the soft. Just we need to be able to squash the tyre," he said. "Our bike doesn’t squash the tyre as much as other bikes out there, which is positive in some ways and negative in others.

"We need something a little bit softer. We are always the manufacturer in the last 2-3 years to use a slightly softer tyre than everyone else. So we're aiming more towards the medium and soft option rather than the hard."

It was a strong opening day at home for Aprilia, with Aleix Espargaro 3rd and 10th over the two sessions, with Smith – who didn't use a new soft or medium tyre during the afternoon – 5th and 18th.

"We started well this morning and to see the bike with Aleix maintain the top ten this afternoon is good," Smith said. "Tomorrow morning is going to be important to try to get to Qualifying 2, so I thought to try to keep one extra soft spare.

"In general the bike seems to be working good here. We've got a lot less problems because of the high grip."

Also enjoying the high grip, as Smith had predicted, were the Yamahas - which dominated free practice despite not being present for any of the recent private tests.

"That bike was strong even in Spielberg. Maverick was on pole position at Austria 1. That bike didn’t drop off, it just wasn't there in the race," Smith said.

"It's more consistent here because the grip level is higher so their grip woes let's say in a race situation or after Moto2 are going to be less apparent here than normal.

"Fabio was fast here last year, so even if they put the same setting as last year... every year they are strong in Misano."

Casting his eye over the other bikes he had encountered on track, and how the RS-GP compared, Smith added:

"We're still trying to make the rear tyre work a little bit better in the braking phase. I think we're very very good at braking with the front end of the bike and we really should try to use both tyres as much as possible!" he smiled.

"[for the others] it's nothing different to what we know as like you can see on TV; KTM is able to brake late and hook up well off the corner and the Yamaha and Suzuki are able to carry the corner speed.

"Everyone's working across the board as manufacturers to try and find that blend and winning combination between braking late and making he bike turn and having a bike that's fast enough etc.

"It's what's making this season so exciting and what's creating the unexpected races, because everyone's trying to squeeze a little bit out in all different areas.

"This weekend won't be any different and we saw that from the lap times, everyone is super close here and it certainly makes it fun for the riders, the journalists and hopefully the fans as well - we've seen a couple around the racetrack and everyone watching at home."

 

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