01 September 2010
In his latest exclusive column for Crash.net, Bancaja Aspar Aprilia 125cc star Bradley Smith reflects on his Indianapolis disappointment - and on why his painful fall will only serve to make him stronger...
It may sound strange to you, but although I'm bitterly disappointed at crashing out at Indianapolis while lying second, I was still really encouraged by the way I was riding until the crucial moment. There are seven grands prix remaining and although the chance of the championship has probably gone, I know I can win races and finish on the podium. The whole weekend in America showed to me that I'm still learning more about what it takes to be a grand prix-winner, especially when the odds are stacked against me. I'm determined not to get downhearted and will give it absolutely everything in my power to end the year on a big high.
I'm not a person who makes excuses, and I always take a long, hard look at my own performance before working out what happened in a race. After qualifying on the front row again, I made a good start from the line but the bike would just not rev above 12,000rpm so I was missing out and slipped down to fifth. The team told me afterwards it was a problem with the exhaust pipe. Gradually the situation improved and the bike started to rev higher and I caught Efrén Vázquez and Pol Espargaró, but Marc Márquez and my team-mate Nico Terol were getting away at the front.
Then the real riding started, because although I was able to pass them in the corners despite the bumpy track, on the acceleration out of the final turn and down the long front straight they constantly passed me – every lap I had to start all over again. I was riding as hard as I ever had, and some of the places I was overtaking were not advisable because of the bumps and the slippery off-line parts of the track in the scorching conditions. In the end I managed to shake them off, and when Márquez crashed out I was up into second place, although being pressured from behind by Sandro Cortese. Nico had a seven-second lead at the front, but I did not completely rule out catching him because I was really in the zone and pushing so, so hard.
I was shouting to myself inside my helmet to be careful after a couple of moments, but I was on a mission until without any warning, the front end of the bike washed away and down I went. The first thing you think about when you crash is 'can I get back in the race?' I picked myself up and rushed over to the bike, but the footrest was broken and there was nothing I could do but make that horrible ride back to the pits and the team. I felt a bit sore, but was soon on the 'plane from Indianapolis to Chicago for the flight home to England. When I stood up to leave the first flight, my back really started to hurt and I was shuffling along through Chicago airport feeling a bit sorry for myself when I saw Alex Debón, who looked far worse than me. He'd broken his collarbone, again, in the Moto2 race and was flying back to Spain to have yet another operation.
I slept on the 'plane back to London, and despite it being bank holiday in England, I went straight to my physiotherapist in Milton Keynes who found my back and pelvis were out-of-line. He soon sorted it out, and I will be fit for the race this Sunday at Misano in Italy. I had just one day at home, which I spent at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham helping Optimum, one of my personal sponsors. On Wednesday I go straight to Stansted for the flight to Italy with my dad and younger brother, and I'll back out on the track at Misano on Friday afternoon determined to put the Indianapolis crash behind me.
There is plenty of speculation about my future next season. I'm almost certain to be in the Moto2 class, and hopefully will have everything sorted out in the next few weeks. Before I went to Indianapolis, I got my first taste of the 600cc four-stroke Honda bikes when I went up to Ron Haslam's race school at Silverstone. I had such a brilliant time just riding a motorbike with no pressure from Ron, a grand prix legend. He taught me so much about riding a four-stroke compared to a 125cc two-stroke, and I finished the day riding round with his son Leon, who of course rides in the World Superbike Championship. I can't thank the Haslams enough for their help, and I'll definitely be going again when our season is over.
Back to the race this weekend, and my last two races at Misano point to something special on Sunday. I've finished third and second in the last couple of years, plus pole position last year – so there is only one way to go. I've never been more focussed on not letting this season just fade away. I'm really up for the last seven races at tracks which I like and on which I've done well. I'm a bit bruised after Indianapolis, but definitely not down!
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