SMITH ‘MORE TO COME’
British Motogp star off to a steady start on all-new RC16, but knows there’s plenty more to come
New KTM factory Motogp rider Bradley Smith has left three ‘bloody hard’ days of testing at Jerez content with the progress that the team are making with the new RC16, despite the results failing to reflect the progress made at the end-of-season test.
Finishing near the bottom of the times alongside KTM test rider Mika Kallio, Smith remained upbeat after the final test of 2016, saying that performance and outright lap times were never the priority and that the team are still very much learning the intricacies of making a Motogp machine.
He said: “They’ve been three bloody hard days and my head wants to explode, but the biggest thing is I really enjoy working with people that can implement what I’m trying to achieve. That’s the most exciting thing. They can actually change and improve things.
“It’s clear that we’re not working on performance. We’re just trying to gain as much data as possible for me, my crew chief, and the engineers, to find the direction to go in the future.”
And while their position on the times could be a cause for concern – and left a few people in the paddock surprised by how slow the KTM pair were – Smith says that he’s still playing the role of test rider more than racer as the crew dial in a base setting.
“I’ve always been one of those guys who need to test at 85% to figure out if things are good or bad, if we’re going in the right direction or not. We tried a lot of things, and it was tough because a lot of them weren’t the right things. But I see days like that as a positive, because you can clarify what’s not going to work. It’s not a good day for me, but it’s a positive day for the engineers.
“We went quite extreme with some things – with ride height, bike balance, that kind of thing, and it’s given a clearer picture to the guys if they need to change things or make some new things. Looking at the data, Mika and I ride quite differently but got to the same lap times – but he’s working with the rear and I’m working the front, so I think if we mix the two we can start improving in big chunks.”
And while that might be a slow process – not not helped by Smith’s knee injury from earlier in the year – he heaped praise on the combination of riders within the team – tester Kallio and team-mate Pol Espargaró. Espargaró was not allowed to ride at the test due to his Yamaha contract but was still able to provide useful information.
“My knee’s not fantastic, and doing so many laps was demanding, but I’m pleased with the test. I’ve been trying to get an idea of what we need to do, to see what we need to work on, and to give my team and KTM as much data as they need in case they have to build special parts. Now they have all winter to do it. But that means the test wasn’t so much about lap times, and more about data and learning.
“It’s good that we had Mika along and that Pol was there as well, out around the track picking up more information. The good news is that what they’re seeing is what I’m saying as well. We’re working well as a unit.”
‘ The test wasn’t about lap times, it was more for data and learning’ BRADLEY SMITH