Bradley Smith was ecstatic after producing another stunning qualifying performance for the Spanish Moto2 Grand Prix at Jerez.
The Brit followed up his 7th place grid slot in Qatar with a top ten finish in the race, but the early signs are that he could better that this weekend. He produced a blistering lap of 1:43.500 to take fifth place and a second row grid slot for tomorrow's race and after his lightning getaway two weeks ago, Smith could be a threat at the start.
The Tech 3 team arrived at Jerez with a heavily revised Mistral 610 machine, including a new rear linkage, offering improved grip.
With the Moto2 field so competitive this year, (1.5 seconds covered the top 18 riders) Smith was delighted with his day's work.
“This was a good day to finish fifth on the grid because Moto2 is very close and today was no exception. The front guys got into the 42s and there is a big group who ran in the 43s, so obviously I am very happy to be on the second row and right in contention. Moto2 is unbelievably competitive, so to be as high as I am so early in my first season is a big bonus.”
Smith, a former Jerez winner in the 125cc class, still feels there is room for improvement in the warm-up before tomorrow's race.
“I think we have a good chance of improving the bike a little bit more tomorrow morning because we have a few ideas to help improve my pace. We have quite a good base and I don’t think we have to make any drastic changes for tomorrow, but we need to improve, particularly in the fourth section where I am losing most of my time compared to Stefan Bradl. The last sector is critical for the lap time”.
Teammate Mike di Meglio had a much tougher day. After a crash in the morning's practice session, the Frenchman couldn't find the sweet spot in the afternoon, qualifying 29th.
“It was a very difficult day for me because of the crash this morning”, he explained. “My mechanics had to change the whole bike and they did a fantastic job to have it ready again for this afternoon. We made some changes for the qualifying and I did feel better, but we have to continue in this direction for the race.”
Tomorrow's warm-up will be very important session for both Tech 3 riders as they search for last minute improvements ahead of the race, which gets underway at 11:15 BST.