05 May 2010
In his latest exclusive column for Crash.net, Bradley Smith reflects on the second round of the 2010 125cc World Championship at Jerez in Spain - what he admits was something of a 'frustrating and lonely race...'
I did get out of jail with fourth place at Jerez, but I can assure you it's no fun riding round in a lonely fourth place at the circuit where I won the Spanish Grand Prix last year. I'll always be grateful for a bit of luck, though, which certainly came my way when Efren Vasquez and Marc Marquez crashed.
Without those crashes I could easily have been down in sixth, so those 13 championship points have kept me in contention with the leaders – but you can't rely on luck, and we need to get things sorted before the next round at Le Mans in two weeks' time.
After the race, I had a really good think to see if there was anything else I could have done to improve the position and close the gap on the leaders. I did everything to close that gap, but it was a lack of horsepower especially under acceleration that meant there was absolutely nothing else I could have done throughout the 23 laps.
I made a half-decent start from the second row of the grid, but got caught behind Alberto Moncayo and just could not pass him quickly enough. I dived up the inside and even rode round the outside of him in the corners – but every time he would out-accelerate me coming out of the bends, and the leading bunch just disappeared into the distance.
I finally passed him, but by then it was too late and there was no way I could catch them. It was a frustrating ride, but I kept calm and concentrated and that little bit of luck came my way. I squeezed every ounce of power from the bike, but it was just not enough.
I checked my lap times after the race, and was pleased to see just how consistent they were. There was less than one second between my slowest and fastest laps, which was the same for the leaders but the difference was they were lapping around half a second quicker.
Already the team have the engine stripped down and are going through everything with a fine tooth comb to find out just why we are down on power. With these highly-sensitive 125cc two-stroke engines, the smallest thing can make all the difference. We have two weeks before Le Mans to sort it out. We have all the weekend data to look at, and I know the team will examine everything to find out just what went wrong.
We thought we'd sorted it out after finding what was wrong in the opening round in Qatar. We tried a new thumb-operated rear brake for that first grand prix. I was way down on top speed, and once we checked the telemetry and got the bike back from Japan we found the oil pressure through the system was causing the rear brake to come on while racing down the long straight. We sorted that out and the top speed was better, but the acceleration was just not as good as the other leading riders.
It's a very important two weeks for all of us before the French Grand Prix at Le Mans. Normally I just want to get back on the bike after a disappointing result, but this time I'm ready to wait if we can sort out what is wrong. For certain, I don't want to be frustrated and lonely out on the race track again this season! I just want to be back near the front fighting for the lead.
Finally, my local football team Oxford United had a great result at the weekend and will play in a Wembley final. It's brilliant to see so many people happy in my hometown, and hopefully we can make it a double – United winning at Wembley and Bradley Smith back at the front fighting for grand prix victories!
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