Bradley Smith is extremely confident that he and new Monster Yamaha Tech3 team-mate Pol Espargaro will be in a position to achieve great things heading into the 2014 season.
At the first 2014 pre-season test, which came immediately after the final race of last year in Valencia, Smith ended proceedings in second position and just three tenths of a second down on Repsol Honda Team’s World Champion Marc Marquez.
“If that is already the starting level, then we (Tech3) have got to take the opportunity with both hands and see where we can end up,” Smith explains.
“The Factory team is always going to develop and improve – you have to understand that – but Yamaha really do look after the satellite riders. With both Pol and I being young riders coming through, I think we will get really good support so I’m quite excited.”
A keen talking point during this off-season is just how close the new ‘Open’ specification machines will be to the likes of satellite contenders Tech3, LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl, GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista and Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone.
“I think qualifying is going to be a lot closer,” continues Smith ahead of his second MotoGP™ campaign. “We are going to see a couple of upsets in qualifying where, with the faster engines and maybe on a really grippy track, we will see a front row (from the Open bikes); from the FTR-Yamaha, I am quite certain we will see a front row.
“Aleix and Colin (Espargaro and Edwards, NGM Mobile Forward Racing) are going to have more power and more fuel, so they can open that thing wide open for their qualifying laps. I don’t know their spec, but they can produce more power because over a race distance they have more fuel. Yamaha will give them good stuff, absolutely.”
Smith’s premier class career began last year, achieving a trio of sixth place race finishes in the Grands Prix of Catalunya, Germany and Australia. Across the season, he was classified inside the top ten on a total of 13 occasions.