In the latest of his 2013 blogs for Crash.net, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 MotoGP rookie Bradley Smith looks back on his debut points-scoring ride during round two in Austin, plus a visit to Laguna Seca and the Texas Tornado Boot Camp…
I've opened my MotoGP account. It may be a small step and twelfth is not where I want to finish, but to pass the chequered flag for the first time represents a real step forward for me and the team.
This was one real tough weekend and we came through it with those points and a wealth of invaluable experience, which gives us real confidence for the start of the European season.
The problems started even before we turned a wheel at the unbelievable new track just outside Austin.
A battery in a starter motor caught fire in our garage on Wednesday night/ Thursday morning which set off the sprinkler system. All our equipment was soaked and it was same story for factory Yamaha team, LCR Honda and Cardion AB.
The sprinkler system and the local fire brigade did a great job and without them everything could have been destroyed. The team also did a remarkable job to dry everything out and we got out on time for the first practice session.
I struggled with the track giving very little grip which made learning the technical long circuit very difficult. Both the grip and I improved in the second session, but I was a long way from the top riders going into Saturday.
Trying to understand the bike and Bridgestone tyres around such a technical track with so many blind corners and elevation changes was tough but I got a real boost on Saturday afternoon. I did not finish in the top ten after practice and so had to take part in the first qualifying session. I finished second and joined the top ten in the second session and finally qualified 11th which meant a fourth row start.
Bridgestone advised me to run a hard front tyre for the 21 lap race and it took me a few laps to understand how it worked. Also I was very tentative in those early stages not wanting a repeat of the Qatar crash. As I gained more confidence I could up the pace without that fear of crashing again.
Towards the end I was lapping as fast of some of the riders in the top ten and as quick as my qualifying times. Although I was tired I could have done with the race going on even longer and that was real sign just how much better I was riding the bike. I honestly was learning a little bit more on every single lap.