Bradley Smith was seventh fastest in both MotoGP practice sessions with the Tech3 impressing as he adapts to a MotoGP machine at Philip Island. Having raced at the track on 125cc and Moto2 machinery Smith found the challenges of the track very different on the Yamaha M1
“Turn one wasn’t bad on a 125 or a Moto2 bike,” said Smith. “On a 125 you hardly braked-it was just off throttle, release a gear and get back on the throttle. Arriving there today and having to brake just after the crest and then thinking ‘Oh my God, I’m not going to stop.’ I ran wide there for my first three laps this morning just because I didn’t want to roll off early. It’s an eye opener.”
Smith finished the day seventh fastest in both sessions and having been within a couple of tenths of Cal Crutchlow and Valentino Rossi in FP1 gave him a lot of confidence for the rest of the weekend:
“Already this morning I had a good feeling and I pushed on for an extra bit this morning and I was really close to Cal and Valentino. This afternoon we tried more setting options to figure out which way to go tomorrow. From my comments there was two or three different ideas that we had so I tried all three. Two of them didn’t work and one did. I think that 1m29’s are possible tomorrow but we just need to alter a few things.”
Smith still has to find time in the opening sector of the lap, with the fast Doohan and Stoner corners, and the rookie admitted that one key might be to emulate the more experienced MotoGP riders and try and match what they do through Stoner Corner. With the wind coming off the sea at Turn 3 it meant that the bike was being pushed across the track and getting underneath the bike and forcing a bigger wheelie than would normally occur.
“Stoner Corner is where we’re struggling the most and I’m still not being brave enough there so I’ll have a play with that and see what I can do. Not knowing how much you can push a MotoGP bike with the front wheel off the ground. Normally that ends in a nightmare but the other riders don’t seem to worry about it too much and just hold it open so I need to trust it a little bit more.”
With the corner taken in fifth gear Smith’s apprehension was understandable on Friday but if he is to improve on his times tomorrow he will need to find that trust in FP3.