9 November 2014
MotoGP Valencia: Smith: Espargaro showed his true colours
Bradley Smith sounds off over 'aggressive' move by team-mate Pol Espargaro, lodges complaint against marshals after gravel trap clash in Valencia MotoGP
A disgruntled Bradley Smith says team-mate Pol Espargaro 'showed his true colours' after the pair clashed at the beginning of the Valencia MotoGP.
Smith had been locked in battle with the Spanish rider for sixth place overall in the championship and feels aggrieved by rookie Espargaro's 'aggressiveness' on the opening laps, notably shoving Smith wide at Turn 2.
“I don't know what his plans were but he was definitely a bit aggressive into Turn 2; he just decided to weave right when the corner went left, so I suppose I kind of expected that all season but he showed his true colours when it finally came to the last race,” said the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 prospect.
“It was nothing terrible, he just made me run wide. It was the same with Aleix [Espargaro], who was obviously battling with me in the championship so I expected it a little bit more from him, but it definitely screwed up the beginning of my race because I had the pace to be with the Ducatis and once I got in front of them I was able to pull away.”
Smith, though, is adamant the incident won't affect his relationship with Espargaro going forward, but says the episode has made him more wary of what to expect in the future.
“The relationship has been fine and to be honest, even what he did isn't going to change that, it sets the stall out of what to expect,” said Smith, who also had an axe to grind with the trackside marshals after he attempted to return to the circuit when he almost came off after tucking the front end of his M1.
“I didn't actually crash – I tucked the front into Turn 8 and I knew there's a loophole in the rules that allows me to rejoin the track without taking an advantage, which I was going to be able to do,” he explained.
“If I ran through Turn 8, I could rejoin at Turn 13 like [Andrea] Iannone had done, although no-one saw that on camera but I saw him do it.
“I went to do the exact same thing but the marshals ran out and blocked me from doing it and then during the process of me getting back on track, I ended up on the floor. Basically I knew the rule and they didn't know the rule, so I've lost seventh place in the championship and sixth position in today's race because of it.”
Smith believes he was shoved from his machine and has lodged a formal complaint over the incident, which saw him eventually rejoin the race in 20th place, recovering to 14th at the finish.
“I think that something happened from an outside person. I've made a formal complaint about the situation but unfortunately we can't change the race positions or the final world championship standings,” he said.
“First of all I've been blocked, which is the main thing – I was blocked from using a shortcut which I was allowed to use. One [marshal] in particular [stood in the way] followed by two more and I see it that if I had joined the race I wouldn't have gained an advantage, I'd have ended up in sixth position and seventh in the championship, but I can't change it now. I was down on the floor and I think I picked the bike up on my own and away I went.
“I haven't spoken to [Race Director] Mike Webb so I don't know the full story, but all I know is that he sees a scenario where I was blocked from using something that I am technically allowed to use. I need to speak to him to figure out what happened but one thing that is 100 per cent confirmed is that I was using a shortcut that I was allowed to use,” he added.
“It's a loophole that I was using but it won't be there next year, so at least that will be cleared up and hopefully the marshals will be more aware of the rules.”
Reflecting on his second season in MotoGP, Smith – who finished eighth overall – said he was satisfied with his progress and has learned plenty that will stand him in good stead for 2015.
“I'm really pleased with how I ended this year, the second half of the season has been really positive,” he said.
“Even when I got back on the track and got going again I was within the three top fastest guys but the great thing is we have managed to find something this second half of the season that has worked at every track and that has translated into the possibility of me being faster than my team-mate in races, so we can implement that into 2015.
“There's no reason why I can't ride smarter next season and have a more consistent season.”
At the post-season test in Valencia this week Smith is hopeful of having the opportunity to test a factory M1.
“At the moment the plan is to start with the current bike and then from what I understand it will be similar to last year when we'll have something new, but if it's the same as last year then one of the factory bikes will be wheeled down into our garage and hopefully that is the case during the three days,” he said.
“I think Tuesday will rain and maybe I can learn something from that because I've been disastrous in the rain this season.
“We've lost our data guy Andy [Griffith] who is going to Scott Redding's team and that's a big blow to me personally because we had a great relationship.
“My mechanic is going to work on another project so there will be a slight reshuffling in personnel but the data guy is the main difference for us.”
Smith missed out on seventh in the world championship by five points to Aleix Espargaro, and was 14 points behind Pol Espargaro's sixth position. Smith's woes also meant Tech 3 lost out on third in the Teams' standings to Ducati, by just four points.
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