Bradley Smith is confident his bid to break his 125GP victory duck in 2009 has already been given a major boost.
The Oxfordshire rider, who celebrated his 18th birthday last week, made his Aspar Aprilia debut in Valencia recently, trying several geometry changes on a 2008 spec machine.
And he had the added bonus of experimenting with settings used by former world 125 champion Gabor Talmacsi, whose departure to the 250 class paved the way for Smith to join Jorge Martinez’s hugely successful squad.
Smith was able to lap within 0.2s of his best Valencia race time of 1.41.043 and he told MCN: “Although it was a 2008 bike, we wanted to try several different things to try and improve. Last season it was in the slow corners where I was losing a lot of time. So we moved the front end in and made the swingarm a bit longer to get some different weight distribution to get the bike turning a bit better.
"When I raced Gabor in Misano to finish second, I was always interested to see what he was running because I couldn’t ride like him and my bike wasn’t performing like his. He had the front end brought in more to make it turn better and that helped me. The bike was very good on the braking zone to the middle of the corner in the slow turns.
"Last year I was struggling most of the way through the slow corners, but with Gabor’s setting I’ve improved a lot. I just need to work from the middle of the corner to the exit now, but it was good to pick that up for next year.”