Bradley Smith rebounds from crash to claim top three

By Matthew Birt -

MotoGP

 10 March 2014 09:25

Bradley Smith experienced an eventful but ultimately very productive final night of MotoGP testing at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider was relieved to emerge unscathed from a high-side crash at turn 8 just when he was poised to start a full 22-lap race simulation.

But when he did finally commence his distance stint, the Oxfordshire rider was delighted with his fast and consistent pace, as he reeled off a series of laps in the high 1.55 and low 1.56 bracket.

Smith stopped two laps short of completing full race distance when he was distracted by a mystery noise coming from his YZR-M1. But he went back out on the same set of Bridgestone tyres to complete five more laps, which saw him set an impressive 1.55.514 on the last lap.

Smith told MCN: “We have just made a bike that gives me confidence and gives me a safety margin. We have dulled it down a little bit, it is very long and lazy but that gives me confidence to lay it on its side and carry the corner speed. Sometimes you feel you need it responsive under you but the best way for the Yamaha is to have it so you have to put a bit more work in but the bike likes that.  To do a 55.0 today was the first time we had a new tyre and that was a good step, so I'm really chuffed with that. But to do a 55.5 at over race distance on 23 lap tyres with 10 litres of fuel is really good."

Smith’s best time of 1.55.027 put him third behind Espargaro duo Aleix and Pol and asked to assess his potential for the first race back in Qatar later this month, Smith added: "The great thing is that now we have a solid base and a lot of information that we have gathered in these conditions, so it is now a matter of refining things. I need to refine myself and be a little more consistent and we need to refine the settings when we come back.  It is an awesome situation to be in and now I know what Honda felt like when they turned up at Austin last year having done three days of testing. You hit the ground running and your head is in the game. This will give me a head start and hopefully adds to my performance.”

Another big positive for Smith was the fact he escaped injury in the cold tyre high-side. Teammate Pol Espargaro was not so fortunate and he broke his left collarbone after falling at turn 6.

Smith said: “I got caught out with the colder conditions with cold tyres. I was going to start a race simulation, I did the out lap and stopped and checked everything was OK and went back out and felt the left had dropped quite a bit and just got caught out. It was just a cold tyre, my first Bridgestone cold tyre crash, so I know what it is. I high sided but I got away with it."