20 June 2007
Q&A: Bradley Smith (Repsol Honda)
At the young age of 16 years, Bradley Smith is taking part in his second Motorcycle Grand Prix season with the Repsol Honda Team 125cc and has already achieved his first podium after finishing third at the French Grand Prix. Here he chats about motorbikes and his life outside the paddock ahead of his home Grand Prix…
You have been clocking good times in this first third of the season, you've had a good pace and you even managed to get onto the podium in France. How do you feel before your home Grand Prix?
I'm really looking forward to racing at Donington. It's a very special Grand Prix because many of my English fans will come to the racetrack and I love watching people cheering me on, wearing t-shirts saying “Go Brad!”. It's great to see everybody coming and I hope it will be a good race for us.
You've joined the leading group some times this season, or at least you've been making the same lap times. What is missing that is stopping you run constantly there?
I think that I need to be stronger in the opening laps, because my race pace is the same as theirs, and I can be faster than them in the last laps. I have to push harder in the first five laps and then try to stay in the group. I caught the front group in a lot of races or at least I was able to recover the difference. Therefore, I think that I have to give 120% percent during the first few laps, though not overdoing it, because mistakes can cost time as well.
And what is stopping your first win?
I don't know! As I said, I have to be stronger in the opening laps and then I might be able to fight with them, because I've been able to get them and be faster in previous races. I might be better on worn tyres, because that's when I can be fast and stay with them. The riders in the front do not seem to be able to pull away when their tyres are worn-out. They are very fast at the beginning, on new tyres, but then they're like the average. So I can be there in the last laps, I know I can. I know that I was there in Le Mans, but the bike wasn't always perfect. It usually works well in the last laps of the race.
There are a number of back to back races now, do you feel strong enough?
Yes, I hope so. Considering the many tests we're doing, I hope to be able to give it all in the next races as well. I'm very motivated for these races and I don't know whether the other riders will get to the third or fourth race a bit tired, or if they'll feel that it's too long. However, I am hundred percent motivated and that's an important point for me, because I want to show that the podium was no coincidence and that I'm able to repeat the result.
Only Faubel has been able to win more than one race this season. How do you see the 125cc class?
I don't see anybody pushing really hard in the front, clocking good times, especially at the races. The practice times are similar to those of last year, but nobody is setting a really good race pace. That's why I think that only Faubel has been able to repeat the win. There are always a lot of guys there and when the top riders are fighting with other riders who have got nothing to loose, the latter see a victory and do anything to get it. Meanwhile, those who are regularly there think: “I don't want to crash, I don't want to loose points.” Maybe it's too early to think about it but it's a very long season and when you loose 25 points it's difficult to get them back. It's always very open; I think that it's possible to win, but you have to pluck up the courage and try it in the last laps.
How does your Honda compare to the Aprilia and KTM machines?
It's difficult to say, we obviously do not have the same top speed and maybe not so much acceleration, but we're not too far away. It's true that we're not on the top on fast tracks, but I cannot expect us to be because the Aprilia machines have been very strong for the last two or three years and they've always been very competitive. They're working very well now with the new bike and they're always fast. In my opinion, the Honda is a very well balanced bike. It's not the best, but not the worst. At least you can understand what you're doing, you know the limit and you can ride focussed.
This is your second year with the Repsol Honda Team 125cc, are you enjoying it?
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