British motorcycling favourite and Crash.net
columnist Bradley Smith has admitted that his first outing on his new Moto2 bike earlier this month left him with a big smile on his face – as he professed his optimism that the riding style in the class will 'really suit' him.
Following five years in the 125cc category yielding three victories, 20 podium finishes, nine pole positions and the runner-up laurels in the world championship two years ago, Smith will graduate to Moto2 in 2011 with Tech 3. Although 2010 was not always his happiest of campaigns – with persistent engine issues frustratingly stymying his efforts – the 19-year-old admits that even with the benefit of hindsight goggles on, from a personal perspective at least, there is nothing he would go back and change.
“I just want to think about the last race!” he quipped, speaking to Crash.net Radio
and alluding to his triumphant 125cc swansong in the Valencia finale earlier this month. “Obviously I went out in style – when everything came together, I made sure I went out on top, and that meant a lot. It's not been the best of seasons, but it's something that's made me a lot stronger.
“There have been a lot of great performances from myself this year that the results haven't really shown. For example, at Mugello I put in the fastest lap of the race – a new lap record – on a bike that was about 15km/h slower on top speed than the other riders around me. There have been certain flashes of brilliance this year, and overall I am very happy.
“I fought against the elements this season; nothing has really gone my way through no real fault of myself or the team. We never really found a 100 per cent solution [to the engine troubles], but we went from a 50 per cent engine to 80 or 85 per cent; it was never absolutely on-song perfect, but it got better.
“I believe I gave 100 per cent at every moment. Maybe I would have tried to win in Portugal rather than sitting in third [in order to protect his team-mate's title bid], but that's probably the only thing. I kept battling right the way to the end, and I'm so impressed that I finally managed to get the win and the fourth position [in the riders' standings].”
As he prepares to move onwards and upwards now, Smith cast a brief glance back over the likely contenders who will be fighting it out for the 125cc world championship crown in his absence next season – and one protagonist, he believes, has already firmly installed himself in pole position.
“[Nicolás] Terol is obviously going to be very fast,” he opined. “It will be interesting to see how [Sergio] Gadea goes now going back to 125cc on Blusens, hopefully Danny [Webb] can have a great season next year and we'll wait and see. [Sandro] Cortese, [Efrén] Vázquez, those guys are going to be right there, but at the moment I think Nico [Terol] stands well-and-far the title favourite.”
For Bradley, however, the focus is now all on his own preparations for his maiden campaign of Moto2 competition – an experience that he acknowledges is going to be a steep learning curve, but equally an opportunity that after trying out his new mount in Valencia, he is convinced he has the potential to grasp with both hands.