Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Bradley Smith got off to a promising start at Brno and finished the opening day in 8th after conducting a thorough shakedown. The British rider leapt into action and began making the initial adjustments to the setup of his Yamaha YZR-M1 in FP1. He rounded out the session with a lap that left him just a blink of an eye outside the top ten, with his fastest time being cancelled due to exceeding the track limits. Then, in free practice 2, Smith carried on from where he left off and focused specifically on the behaviour of the tyres over race distance. In addition, he was able to impressively improve on his best time from this morning by 1.1 seconds, as opposed to the overall fastest lap which was cut by only three-tenths of a second. After undertaking a positive start today, the 25-year-old will now seek to continue the momentum tomorrow and seize a strong qualifying position.
On the other side of the garage, Pol Espargaro suffered a tricky first day in the Czech Republic as he started his round 11 campaign at the undulating Masaryk circuit. The young Spaniard got straight to work as he began taking the first steps in setting up his Yamaha YZR-M1 and he completed the opening practice in 13th after posting his best time on the last lap. The 2013 Moto2 World Champion remained focused, as he continued to adjust his MotoGP bike, and he completed sixteen laps in the afternoon session before eventually finishing in 15th. Now Espargaro determinedly looks on to tomorrow where he intends to reduce the gap to the top of the time sheets and also undertake a successful qualifying performance.
Position: 8th - Time: 1'56.494 - Laps: 32
"It was a good first day and the nice thing is that we were able to take some of the positives from Austria so we could continue to work on those points straight away. I always like the back-to-back races, because I feel more natural on the bike on a Friday and as a result, I got up to speed quite quickly. We commenced FP1 well and I felt comfortable with the setting straight away, but unfortunately my best lap time got cancelled as I exceeded the track limits. Having said that, it looked like I was inside the top 8 and then I remained in that position this afternoon. For the first two runs in FP2, we tried to work as much as possible on old tyres just so that we could understand our weakest points when the tyre starts to drop. Then after that, we extracted the best from the new set of Michelins and posted a competitive time. Brno is quite a bumpy track, therefore, having a stable bike is very important and this is what we will work towards tomorrow. We were able to confirm two of the tyre options for both the front and the rear today and we have a clear direction of where to head towards next. I’ve ended the first day positively, so we must try to stay inside the top ten so that we can pass straight through to QP2."
Position: 15th - Time: 1'57.335 - Laps: 32
"This first day has not gone quite to plan with regards to the result but also when considering my feelings on the bike. Normally, Brno is a circuit where we have faced a few issues in the past, yet I hope that it would have been a bit different with the new tyres. During the first practice session, I didn’t feel comfortable and we were working to find more rear grip, which is the main issue that I am struggling with. However, maybe we ended up trying too many things at once. In the afternoon, I rode both of my bikes which had different settings, but used the tyres from this morning, even then, the result hasn’t been what we were expecting. Fortunately, at the end, we found a base that I’m quite happy with even if we are a bit further back at the moment. This evening we have a lot of work to do in the garage as we have to analyse all the data so that we can try to understand where we can improve, in terms of bike setting or my riding style. We will also analyse what the other Yamahas are doing so that we can understand what the differences are. Nevertheless, I am confident that by the third free practice we will have some new ideas that will allow me the rediscover the feeling that I had with the bike a few weeks ago, in order to help us to get back into the top ten."