Bradley Smith boosted by engine braking improvements

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Bradley Smith put a tough Catalunya GP weekend behind him today when the British rider set the second fastest time during a post race test session in Spain.

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider raised his spirits after a deflating 10th position in yesterday’s 25-lap race with a lap of 1.41.224 that left him just 0.040s behind Marc Marquez.

Smith tried revised engine braking settings today, as well as different geometry to try and help him improve on the brakes.

Yamaha is working round the clock to improve braking stability, which has become a key strength of the rival Honda RC213V package raced by dominant world champion Marquez and teammate Dani Pedrosa.

Oxfordshire rider Smith though is confident the engine braking tweaks he experimented with throughout today will benefit him in future races as he looks to recapture his early season form.

Smith battled for the podium after claiming a maiden front row start in the season’s opening round in Qatar before tumbling out of fifth.

He was near the top three in Austin but ever since he has found it hard to get close to the top six.

The 23-year-old said: “The engine braking change meant more rear contact, so we can brake more like a Honda can. That’s been our weakness all season and still is but we are getting closer and that’s the great thing. I rode behind (Stefan) Bradl and Pedrosa today and we are at least matching them and in some places maybe even better. That’s obviously a big step. I still haven’t ridden behind Marc and I can’t imagine I’ll be able to brake as late as him. But we are getting closer.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt