BRADLEY Smith is confident extensive preparation throughout the winter has put him in position to make a flying start when the MotoGP season begins in Qatar this weekend.
The 23-year-old is no longer a rookie and he begins a second season in the elite class ready to attack from the off.
Smith, who grew up in Forest Hill, near Wheatley, has barely taken a day off since the 2013 campaign ended in November.
Combined with an excellent period of winter testing, plus the benefit of a year’s experience on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, hopes are high ahead of Sunday’s race in the Middle East.
“I probably feel the best I ever have,” he said.
“I think I’ve done more laps in testing than anybody and I’ve put in so much effort in my training in the off-season that I could go to the winter tests strong, fit and healthy.
“I didn’t really have a break – my off-season away from training was four days.”
A year ago, Smith crashed out on his MotoGP debut at the Losail circuit, before finishing 12th in Austin, Texas.
They also form the first two races of this year’s season, followed by an additional long-distance trip to a new race in Argentina.
Smith believes a strong showing will be important.
He said: “Austin was a really tough GP for me last year, so finishing in Qatar and gaining a bit of confidence will hopefully help going into Austin and the Argentina.”
Smith finished a creditable tenth in the overall standings last season and is setting his sights significantly higher this time around.
He added: “I think realistically straight away it’s to be the top satellite bike – so that’s fifth place.
“It’s going to take an off-day or a crash to get on to the podium, but at the end of the day if you’re the guy in fifth, then you’ll be there to pick up the pieces.”