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EXCLUSIVE Bradley Smith - Q&A

28 September 2013

By Christian Tiburtius

An exclusive interview with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 MotoGP rookie Bradley Smith, who holds tenth place in the world championship heading into Sunday's Aragon race.

So far this year Smith - a former 125cc race winner for Aprilia and Moto2 podium finisher for Tech 3 - has qualified and finished a best of sixth (twice each)...

Crash.net:
Hi Bradley, what's your assessment of the season so far?

Bradley Smith:
Well obviously my own personal assessment is a little critical and I would have to say that it's been average. We've had very good moments and we've also had our brain fade and dull moments. It's to be expected in a rookie season but I do expect more from myself so based on that I would have liked to see some improvement.

Crash.net:
So do you feel disappointed?

Bradley Smith:
No, absolutely not disappointed, we'd just like to see a little bit more. We're actually ahead of the team and sponsors' expectations and targets but it's just that within myself I want to see something better in the last races. I just believe that there's a little more inside me that I need to extract.

Crash.net:
Looking at your results, it looks as if you've been making solid progress, would you agree?

Bradley Smith:
Oh, absolutely, this season has been very good in terms of progression and every race we seem to have improved a lot which was always our aim, with Sachsenring being the race highlight and Brno the qualifying highlight. I'd just like to make sure that I'm doing that every weekend. If I can be at that level for the next five races I'll be very satisfied and I would say that that is the main target and objective.

Crash.net:
What have you found more difficult to get used to, the bike or the tyres?

Bradley Smith:
Tyres are totally critical in MotoGP and you have to get the balance of the bike right to work the tyres in the right way. They're the key to the performance of this motorcycle and are the key to success.

I love the tyres but they're very difficult to get used to and especially because they'll have a different feeling at each track and you have to learn what that feeling means. I guess that's what a rookie season is all about, learning those feelings and the reactions from those feelings.

Crash.net:
Do you think we could have better competition if we had a lower spec tyre?

Bradley Smith:
Yeah, absolutely. If we created an environment where the tyre lasted let's say between 10 and 15 laps and the rider had to manage them after that, which is something that we have in World Superbikes, I believe that that could create more competition and make it more critical as to how the rider uses the bike and approaches the race.

I'm not going to ask for less performance from a tyre though, I just think we'd see different racing. Not necessarily much more competitive, but different.

Bridgestone want to give the riders the best of the best and that's why we have a class such as MotoGP to get the most technically advanced motorcycle possible. That's why Yamaha, Honda and Ducati spend all that money to compete on a platform of technicality and the tyres that fit into there will also be at the pinnacle.

I would like to see and did enjoy the days when there were two tyre manufacturers because they were always fighting to make the best tyre for a given race. It was very exciting. I do feel that racing is closer given the single tyre rule though.

Crash.net:
Is your bike the same as Cal's?

Bradley Smith:
No, it's not. It's a couple of steps behind Cal's in terms of chassis and parts on the motorcycle, the engine is the same spec.

For sure the parts Cal is using don't give worse performance, but I don't know how much improvement they give. Cal decided to move up to the spec of bike rather than staying with the bike he had. I'm sure the performance is better I just don't know by how much.

Crash.net:
Were you given the choice of using that spec of bike?

Bradley Smith:
No I didn't get the option, but I didn't expect that in my rookie season either.

I knew that being a rookie they would leave me to do as I can. I knew already going into the season that Yamaha would push extremely hard for the championship with Jorge and Valentino. And I knew that that was going to mean that we might be slightly neglected throughout the season, because the factory guys would take full priority.

I feel that at the start of next year we'll be on much better machinery because of that though.

Crash.net:
When you say 'we', do you mean you and Cal, or you and your crew?

Bradley Smith:
Me and my crew, obviously I can't speak about Cal because I don't know his arrangement. Me and my crew for sure knew when we went into this season what we were starting with and what we were going to end with and we knew that that package would be very competitive and was more than good enough for what I needed in my rookie season.

Crash.net:
So right from the start it was going to be a learning experience, rather than a do or die effort?

Bradley Smith:
Yeah, absolutely. The reason I signed a three year contract with Herve was so that [after another season in Moto2] I could have two years in MotoGP. The rookie season would be my rookie season and the second year was going to be the time to be able to perform.

The kind of job that Cal's been doing this season is remarkable and by no means am I expecting to do that. but mixing it with the other privateer motorcycles is the plan. To be mixing it with the Bradl's and the Bautista's is the plan.

Crash.net:
And next year the bike you will have will be pretty close to a full factory Yamaha?

Bradley Smith:
Yes, absolutely. I have a contract directly with Tech 3 and I'm a full Tech 3 rider until the end of 2014.

Crash.net:
You see a lot of comments from doubters who ask why you got this ride in MotoGP, how do you justify yourself?

Bradley Smith:
The only way I can justify my ride is the fact that I was given that contract. I'm actually on target for being the British rider to score the highest number of points in their rookie year.

You really can't compare year on year, situation on situation anyway because the context changes. I do believe that in my rookie season I haven't done a bad job.

I understand and appreciate people's criticism going into the season, but you're never going to satisfy people like that unless you're winning races anyway. You just have to go on previous facts, your team's response and Herve's response and they're both very happy as are Yamaha. They chose me for a reason and that's why I've got a contract.

Crash.net:
So there are never any hard discussions with Herve?

Bradley Smith:
No, I can only go with what they're telling me and they're very happy with my progress and work. I've just got to carry on doing what I'm doing.

Crash.net:
Do you take notice of those kinds of comments?

Bradley Smith:
I think that you have to go with the general fan base rather than just a few and at Silverstone I definitely got a great response from the British crowd and there was definitely more positive than negative.

They were very receptive and it was humbling to hear some of the words of support that were said. My season has pleased them and they are probably the people I'm trying to please rather than those who make negative comments.

Crash.net:
Do you think that you don't get sufficient credit for what you did on the Tech 3 Mistral [2011 and 2012] given what Danny Kent is doing this season?

Bradley Smith:
Credit's always a difficult thing.

We did the best that we could on the Mistral and I was enjoying riding for the Tech 3 team. My team-mate from last year, Xavier Simeon, has gone on to a Kalex this season and has been much more competitive and I'm pleased to see that, so...

No one ever deserves credit or this, that or the other but going on facts and figures I think I did a very good job with the bike I had.

Crash.net:
It never seems to be mentioned though…

Bradley Smith:
It's mentioned by the right people let's say. The kind of people who look into it and show interest. It's often the people who may have no idea who continue to bypass that type of information but that's their choice

Crash.net:
How is the injury on your wrist now?

Bradley Smith:
Luckily everything's healed up now. I can ride trial's bikes, motocross and now I can ride the MotoGP bike without any problems so luckily everything's healed properly.

It was a pain for a good three races but now it's back to normal. I would say it's pretty much 100%.

Crash.net:
Lastly Bradley, you're in my Fantasy Road Race team, can you handle the pressure?

Bradley Smith:
I hope so and that's why I'm looking to get a good bag of points in these final races for you. I'll try that extra little bit harder!


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