Having set the pace on the opening day of practice at the Catalan Grand Prix Bradley Smith admitted that he was somewhat disappointed to set the eighth fastest time in qualifying but that when he assessed his effort in qualifying that finding 1.5s compared to 12 months ago showed the progress being made.
The Englishman was half a second off the pace of Dani Pedrosa in qualifying and afterwards Smith admitted that a lack of feeling on turn in was to blame as it made it impossible to carry enough corner speed on the Tech3 Yamaha.
Speaking to the media after the session Smith said:
“It was shame but it seemed that we were missing a little bit of turn in off the brake,” said Smith. “When you try and carry the corner speed you need for the Yamaha it wouldn’t turn so you needed more angle and had less grip. I matched the laptime twice 44.4 and 44.5 but I just didn’t have that extra little bit. I’m pleased that I was consistent and safe and secure for the laptime. I’ve felt really comfortable on the bike all weekend. I was aiming for second row with Valentino and that was 0.2s. I knew that it was possible and hopefully with a few changes tomorrow we can do that.”
In qualifying Marc Marquez has consistently been able to make three runs in final qualifying, saving a set of fresh tyres compared to his rivals, and while the championship leader crashed today and was only able to set the third fastest time Smith was clearly impressed by the Spaniard’s strategy:
“Marc saved tyres either this morning or yesterday, and it was the right thing to do. The tyre was good for the first flying lap but we didn’t have three tyres for three runs because that’s what I would have liked. It was a clever strategy because here you’ve only got one flying lap and if you don’t nail it perfectly, I can’t do that strategy because after 35 minutes off the bike I can’t do those times. The tyre has one lap here, maybe two if you’re lucky, so that’s a clever strategy. That strategy requires you to go out and drop the hammer on the first lap, some riders can and some riders can’t.”
With heavy rain forecast for tomorrow, starting at 11am local time, there is a major question mark hanging over the paddock and with the French Grand Prix last year the last time that MotoGP raced in the wet Smith said that racing with no wet weather running would be a challenge for the field but one that could make for an exciting race:
“It’s scary to think that we haven’t ridden in the rain for 12 months and that everyone will be rolling the dice. It would make it interesting and it could even be a flag to flag race. You’d need a lot of rain [to stay fully wet]. I suppose that if it rains heavily we’ll be rain tyres so that would be good.”