This month, KTM has been preparing for next season, their MotoGP début, with the factory riders. Smith was able to ride the RC16 two days in Valencia and two more in Jerez, whereas Pol Espargarò had to skip the second tests due to Yamaha’s veto.
Before the winter break that will be used to develop the new bike, team manager Mike Leitner summed up the situation: “Our time difference to the fastest bikes is between one and two seconds. If we can reduce this step-by-step, then it will only be a matter of time before we move up the rankings.”
Indeed, on the flying lap, Pol was consistently two seconds behind in the time rankings, whereas at Jerez (where almost all the official teams were missing), Bradley was a bit farther behind, although the Brit is still not at full physical fitness.
“Because of my injury it wasn’t the easiest starts to the project - Smith explained - but nevertheless I still think my first four days on the KTM RC16 were very productive, especially because input from Mika and Pol could also accelerate things a bit. Naturally, we want to advance as quickly as possible, but we stay realistic, and we now have very clear statements from three riders on which areas next need to be improved. Both the team and I have a lot of work ahead of us in the two months before the Sepang tests, and I want to be in better physical shape the next time I get on the bike. We are only at the beginning of the work we have to do, but the level is already better than expected.”