Bradley Smith fancies his chances of finishing on the podium in tomorrow's Japanese Grand Prix after qualifying fourth at Motegi. The Briton has been among the pacesetters all weekend and backed it up in qualifying, finishing just half a second behind polesitter Marc Marquez.
Smith feels particularly confident that his race pace will enable him to challenge the riders ahead of him as he goes in search of his first podium since Mugello.
“It has been a very positive weekend so far in Motegi, so hopefully we can finish the job off in the race tomorrow. We made some small modifications to the bike in qualifying which should help my pace in the race and I am really happy with the work we have done. I was constantly in the top five all weekend and this has given me a lot of confidence that I can fight for the podium tomorrow. I have a good pace with a full fuel tank and that is positive as well. I just need one of my good starts again and push hard through the first five or six laps and see how the race unfolds from that point. My target is to gain more points and keep the pressure on the riders in front of me in the Championship.”
Tech 3 teammate Mike Di Meglio struggled once again, only qualifying 25th and put his problems down to a lack of rear grip that persisted throughout the session.
“Once again it has been very difficult for me to achieve the lap times I expected. The problem is that we do not understand why in qualifying the bike became difficult to ride as it was working well this morning in practice. We were looking for a solution to solve the lack of rear grip I experienced throughout the session, but we could not find a solution. One big problem also is that the temperature dropped massively this afternoon and it is like you have to start from zero. I really need to improve for the race tomorrow and make a good start to be able to fight for the points.”
Meanwhile, Xavier Simeon qualified an impressive 16th on the RTL-backed Mistral 610 and believes a top ten finish is possible tomorrow.
“My qualifying went not too bad. We found a really good set up for the Mistral 610. I was consistently riding in the 1’53s. I just need to be three tenth of a second faster and that is my goal. My feeling with the bike has improved so much and I felt a lot better than at the other races. Normally when I qualified around 24th position my target was to finish 15th in the race, so tomorrow, as I qualified 16th, my target is to finish in the Top 10. I need to concentrate during the race, get a good start and try my best.”