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Opening my MotoGP account in Austin

23 April 2013

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.

The star of the show was obviously the winner Marc Marquez. I was not that surprised because nothing ever surprises me about Marc. It was also another great ride from my team-mate Cal Crutchlow who rewarded all the hard work and setbacks for the team with fourth place.

The Circuit of the Americas was not the only circuit I made my debut on in America. The previous weekend to the Austin race I went to the legendary Laguna Seca circuit in California for some learning laps on a Yamaha road bike before the American Grand Prix in July. It was awesome and what a track. Everybody told me the Corkscrew was the bend of all bends but I actually thought the next bend the left hand Rainey curve was even better. I can't wait to go back.

I then went on for a couple of brilliant days at Colin Edwards's Texas Tornado Boot Camp. We had such a good time riding dirt bikes, and laughing with Colin and some of his mates. Highly recommended for anybody who just wants a great time. Just ask Steve and Matt from the BBC but don't get Steve to show you the scars on his elbows. Once a road racer always a road racer.

The Texas experience has given me some real confidence going into the next round at Jerez in Spain. I can't believe it was four years ago I won my first grand prix there in the 125cc race. So much has happened since then but that's all in the past. My aim is to start that first day of practice quicker than I did in Austin and be much closer to the top ten in the race.

That's the next step on a very long ladder.

Bradley


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