MotoGP: Smith delighted with KTM debut

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Bradley Smith has been left delighted with his first day on KTM’s new RC16 MotoGP machine; pleased that the bike has succeeded the expectations he had before jumping from the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine onto the brand new Austrian project today.

Smith finished the day in 20th place, only 1.8 seconds off fastest man Maverick Viñales and only 0.035 behind teammate Pol Espargaró in 19th. And, not sure what to expect from the first time on track with the machine, he said afterwards that there is both positives and potential in the bike.

“There’s been so much to take in, but I’ve been positively pleased despite how many things feel so different. The engine is different, the chassis is tubular steel, and we’re running WP suspension – but it feel like a bike, and it has a similar character on the Michelins and reacts in the same way and logically.

“We worked mainly on electronics today, because our riding style is quite different from Mika Kallio. We roll through corners more instead of stopping and starting like in Moto2, and Mika doesn’t mind the bike backing in as much and sliding because that’s what he knows.

“The good thing is that Pol and I went in a similar direction and positive feedback form it. We didn’t try too much with the chassis; today was a case of trying as much with the electronics and trying to understand the character of the engine. The sound confused me the most – you don’t really know where you are or what the traction control is doing – but it improved with every run.”

And while the gap to the leaders might seem substantial at the minute, Smith was keen to play it down and instead take the positives from the day.

“1.8 off considering this bike still hasn’t done half the kilometres of anything else out there is impressive. Pol and I are working on the same things, complaining about the same things, and doing the same lap times, which is really positive.”

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer