SMITH: KTM NEEDS ANOTHER HALF A SECOND
Smith, recovering from injury, started the pre-season almost three-and-a-half seconds off the pace, but cut that gap to two seconds, over tests at Sepang, Phillip Island and Losail.
Smith and team-mate Pol Espargaró, 21st and 22nd on the final day, were within touching distance of Marc VDS' Tito Rabat and Aprilia's Sam Lowes, but the best part of a second adrift of the midfield.
Smith reckons another 0.5s could bring KTM into the points-scoring window.
"We were just clarifying the parts and chassis that we're going to race with, and I'm pleased with the improvements again," said Smith, after concluding the test on Sunday.
"I think we were able to improve another 2.5 seconds over the three days.
"In general, we were working with the mapping and the electronics, and we made some good progress, especially in the electronics.
"We now have something that is a lot more consistent and good over the race distance with all tyres, so everybody did a really good job.
"Looking at the lap times, we have to find another half a second.
"We're close to the two guys in front but then there's a gap to the next group, and that's where we want to be if we want to fight for points."
Espargaró, who described Losail as "probably the most difficult circuit" for KTM so far, wants further gains with traction and electronics moving forward.
"I believe [at Losail] we are a bit further away from where we want to be, but we just focused on making long runs with used tyres, and to analyse what was happening with the bike," said Espargaró.
"We have good ideas but for sure the lap times could be better.
"We're still missing some acceleration and compared with the other factory bikes still something in the corners. We're OK with the brakes, but we lose some time with traction and electronics."
Qatar hosts MotoGP's season-opener from March 23-26.
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