Bradley Smith admits he faces a huge challenge to qualifying for the pole position shootout tomorrow after missing out on an automatic Q2 place on Friday at Losail. The Briton struggled for pace on new tyres in FP3 and fell to sixteenth, meaning he must negotiate his way through Q1 to have any chance of a top ten grid slot, but Smith remains adamant that he can salvage a good result tomorrow.
“Of course, the end result today wasn’t what we planned at all. To be honest, we were going really well in the first two runs in FP3 and I felt confident on the old tyres at the beginning. Then on the second run, we tried the hard compound and I was one of the fastest riders on this type of tyre. However, we then put the new medium on at the end of the session but it didn’t work well and I couldn’t improve my lap time. Yet, I can’t be negative as the bike feels good and I am certain that if we make a few small modifications, we can improve tomorrow.”
Smith was knocked out of the top ten by the likes of Yonny Hernandez and Aleix Espargaro on softer tyres and expects those running the concessions in Q1 to be his biggest threat.
“Qualifying 1 will be tough, especially with the riders who will use the soft tyres, but I am convinced that it is still possible that we can do a good job. We have been competitive all weekend and we were just unlucky when it was time to do a time attack. These things happen, but I’m glad it was today and not tomorrow or Sunday. We’ll stay positive, try to improve in a few small areas and then prepare for a fast lap in qualifying.”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate Pol Espargaro scraped into Q2 in tenth but the Spaniard wasn’t pleased with his YZR-M1, nor the tyre advantage afforded to some of his rivals.
“For sure, I can’t be completely happy as finishing in tenth is nothing to be thrilled about. However, maybe I could say that I’m satisfied in one respect as we are right behind the factory guys and also the gap to the leader is not that big. Moreover we still have some margin to improve as we are struggling with our rear grip, yet I’m confident that we can solve this issue tomorrow. In my opinion, it’s normal that we ended up in tenth in a session which turned out to be a qualification for us and also, my teammate who has always been fast at this track, is even further behind. I don’t think we deserve the disadvantage we have because of the tyre allocation, but that’s how it is so we just have to deal with it. Fortunately we managed to go straight to QP2 but for sure, it won’t be easy at all to achieve a decent grid position tomorrow.”