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Q&A: Bradley Smith (Repsol Honda)

20 June 2007

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…

Question:
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?

Bradley Smith:
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.

Q:
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?

BS:
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.

Q:
And what is stopping your first win?

BS:
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.


Q:
There are a number of back to back races now, do you feel strong enough?

BS:
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.

Q:
Only Faubel has been able to win more than one race this season. How do you see the 125cc class?

BS:
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.

Q:
How does your Honda compare to the Aprilia and KTM machines?

BS:
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.

Q:
This is your second year with the Repsol Honda Team 125cc, are you enjoying it?

BS:
Sure. Hundred percent. Working in a professional team may sometimes involve some kind of pressure, but I put more pressure on myself than the sponsors or even the team. You always want to do a good job, you see the guys of the 250cc doing a job, those in MotoGP as well, and you obviously want to do a good job too, because you want to show that you're also able to be fast in the 125cc class. So it's a great team, with an ideal atmosphere, very professional and also amusing. It's really good.

Q:
Did you have time to celebrate the French podium finish with your family and friends?

BS:
Not really, because we didn't have much time left, only a week. My family seemed to be even happier than I was. I was happy, but also thinking that I am able to do better.

Q:
Do you imagine the Union Jack and the British anthem played after the 125cc race on Sunday?

BS:
It would be nice, it would always be nice because there's nothing better than winning at your home Grand Prix, I'm sure. But we'll have to work hard, give our hundred percent and then we'll see after the race.

Q:
What do you like to do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?

BS:
I don't have many. I like to play golf and I have a lot of fun. It may be boring for some people, but I like it because it always has a bit of pressure. You have to do it well with every stroke or else you have to go back. I think it's good for your mind. I'm not very good, to be honest, I'm not and I do not pretend to be. I always go with my Dad because he isn't a good player either and with grown-ups because my strokes don't get that far. I go with them because it's easier.

Q:
When you're not at the races, do you have time to meet your friends?

BS:
Yes. I don't have much time left, but I have a friend in my hometown; he's also taking exams now. I usually meet him and three or four other guys from town. I try to do things outside the races, because if I didn't I'd end up crazy. Sometimes you need to do something to break the routine.

Q:
Do people recognise you in your home country?

BS:
To be honest, they don't. It happens in Spain and in Italy. Nobody knows me in England. A couple of days ago I took the underground in London and one person recognised me, but it was the first time it happened to me in England. But I actually prefer it like that, because I want to be a normal person, with a normal life, which is not bad.

Q:
What do you think about the MotoGP class? Do you think Dani will win the title?

BS:
I think that it's a very difficult class. Both the rider and the bike depend too much on the tyres some times. It's very difficult, but I'm sure that Dani has qualities to win the title, but one of the choices such as the tyres, the bike or something doesn't. It's not only about racing, there are many things playing a role.

Q:
There are many young riders racing in the premier class now. Do you see yourself racing with them?

BS:
I think that there's a long way ahead for that. Right now I'm dreaming about winning a 125cc race, and not about riding a MotoGP bike.


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