Bri­tish Mo­togp star off to a steady start on all-new RC16, but knows there’s plenty more to come

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Contents - SI­MON PAT­TER­SON IN SPAIN MO­TOGP RE­PORTER si­mon.pat­ter­son@mo­tor­cy­cle­

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

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