Bradley Smith says he’s “not going to get carried away” despite going a second and a half quicker on Wednesday than he had 24 hours earlier at Sepang. The British rookie was an excellent eighth on the Tech 3 Yamaha, a second nearer to the leaders than he had been on Tuesday, and expects the remaining time to be much tougher to find. That said, Smith is delighted with the direction he’s moving in and has praised the team for making his MotoGP introduction as easy as possible.
“Today’s performance and the final lap times makes me feel really happy but I am not going to get carried away. I am happy with the job I have done and to be so fast on such a long and technical track is great for my confidence. But I know reducing the gap to the leading group will be very difficult. There’s still a long way to go but it is nice to be so much faster than yesterday and to see some real progress. A lot of it is down to trusting the bike and having the confidence to ride it to the absolute limit to get the best out of it. I’m not at that point yet but each time I go out I get a better feeling. The great thing with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team is they make me feel calm and concentrated and they give me a focus to work on my technique out on track. The lap times are coming from the work we are trying to improve in key areas. It never feels easy on these bikes and you don’t get time to rest, but when it becomes more like your friend then you start making steps forward. The team gives me a plan and an area to work on and I try to implement it on track.”
Teammate Cal Crutchlow was fifth quickest and sees potential in some of the changes he’s been trying at this test and hopes to further exploit that tomorrow.
“Today I mainly looked at improving the bike on corner entry and one setting was an improvement but we lost a bit of turning performance. This track has some severe braking points, particularly going into the first and last corner where you arrive in the braking zone while flat-out in sixth gear. We need to keep the rear tyre more on the floor at corner entry, so it was good to try and get more rear grip to help me enter the corner without the rear sliding too much. I’ve still got a few tenths to find but it seems on used tyres I’m around the same pace as Valentino and that’s positive but I still feel a little bit rusty after the winter lay-off. Another key target for this test is to get a good understanding with my new Japanese engineer from Yamaha. He worked with Andrea (Dovizioso) last year and we just need time to understand how he works. We are working closely together and I am looking forward to his input this season.”