Bradley Smith has described the final pre-season test at Jerez as “positive” despite a high-speed crash this afternoon. The Briton lost control of the Mistral 610 at turn 12 late in the final day, bringing out the red flag, and slipped to 14th as a result.
Testing has been troubled for the Tech 3 team with Smith using his third chassis of the winter at this test but the 21 year old feels they are steadily making progress. Although he concedes there is work to do to challenge at the very front, Smith is hopeful of coming away from the first race in Qatar with a good result.
“It has been a very positive test, despite the crash at the end at Turn 12. It was a very fast crash and I’m just thankful I’ve got away with just a few bumps and bruises and I will be 100% fit and ready to go in Qatar. I was pushing hard on new tyres and just lost the front, but we have learned a lot about the Mistral 610 this week, which makes me optimistic for the season. We have some work to do when you look at the lap times of the guys at the front, but I’m convinced we have a competitive package. I can lap comfortably and consistently inside the 1.43 bracket but when I push for 42 it is not easy. But I am still really happy with the performance of the Mistral 610. We have improved the overall balance of the bike, particularly with stability on the brakes and corner entry.”
“The Tech 3 Racing Team have been working unbelievably hard throughout the winter and at every test we have improved the bike. I’m a lot more confident on this new bike we have tried here, so I am looking forward to going to Qatar and starting the season with a strong result.”
Belgian rider Xavier Simeon will partner Smith this season and the 22 year old was 19th quickest at the end of the three-day test. Simeon suffered a crash of his own on Monday but recovered well and thinks he has the bike to challenging for a top ten finish in Qatar.
“This has been a very good test and a positive way to finish the pre-season, so I can go to Qatar with a lot of optimism. The Mistral 610 has improved a lot during the winter and the Tech 3 Racing Team deserves a lot of credit for all their hard work and effort. I made a mistake on the first day when I crashed at Turn 5 on cold tyres but after that we did a very good job improving the set-up of the bike and getting lots of information for the future. Today I managed to set a 1.43.7 on old tyres, so it shows over race distance we have a very strong and competitive package. The only small issue is when I push a bit more the lap time doesn’t improve a lot. But today’s set-up was better because I felt more comfortable and in Qatar I am confident I will be battling for the top 10. The bike is really fast and consistent over a race distance, but we have to look at being quicker for one lap, which is important to get a good grid position.”