Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Bradley Smith will kick off the Czech Republic Grand Prix from 11th on the grid after pushing relentlessly today at the undulating Masaryk circuit. The young Briton started by determinedly battling in FP3 but he just missed out on the cut-off point, which meant that he had to compete in QP1. Here, however, he launched into attack mode immediately and completed the shootout only 0.064 behind the leading time, which confirmed his appearance in Qualifying two. Once this session began, Smith continued where he left off and immediately got on the pace. The British star eventually sped to his personal best on his final lap which left him only 0.606 from Valentino Rossi. Tomorrow, he will aim to leap forward and join the battle for the top independent position.
Meanwhile, Pol Espargaro will start the 22 lap fight from behind his teammate. The 25-year-old commenced the day by finishing the free practice three session in 8th after pulling off his best time on the penultimate lap, which was a huge improvement of 1.192 from yesterday. Once in QP2, he set off at speed in pursuit of seizing a top tier grid position. He built up his pace and eventually shot across the finish line after giving his all, and clinched a grid position on the fourth row, right behind his teammate. The leading independent rider in the 2016 championship will intend to close the weekend with a notable top eight finish.
Position: 11th - Time: 1'56.115 - Laps: 7
"To be perfectly honest, 11th on the grid is not an ideal starting point, but it has been a few races since I’ve been able to compete in Q2 so therefore I can’t be too unhappy. However, I believe we have some more work to do because I feel that we’re missing something and we’ve not improved as much as we would have liked. It seems as though everyone has progressed from yesterday to today, but we only made half a step. The Tech3 guys and I need to find some additional pace for the race tomorrow, and even though I am where I am, I want more from the team and myself. Nevertheless, I am certain that we will be able to fight well inside the top ten, and we will use the time until the GP to refine our setup for the 22 lap sprint. The weather is unpredictable at the moment, so we won’t be completely sure of what it will do until it gets to race time, however, we will do some analysis tonight and be ready nevertheless."
Position: 12th - Time: 1'56.522 - Laps: 7
"In FP3 this morning, I felt much better on my bike in comparison to yesterday which meant that I was able to improve the lap time straight away and I finished the session in 8th. Then, later on in Free Practice 4, I was riding comfortably but I made a slight mistake in corner 6 and I touched the painted white line on the inside of the corner and I lost the front. Unfortunately, when I went out with the second bike, I didn’t have the same confidence and this is the reason for our qualifying result. I wasn’t comfortable and I didn’t feel as natural on the bike as I should have, plus I struggled to ride a similar pace to this morning. Nevertheless, I am convinced that with a bit more track time we will be back up to speed, just like we have shown this morning. In addition, the weather forecast for tomorrow is rain, so we have to wait until and see. Clearly, I didn't give myself an easy task starting from the back of the fourth row, but as soon as the lights turn green, I will push as hard as I can to fight for the leading independent rider position."