A rare race mistake cost Bradley Smith the chance of scoring a fine fifth place finish in Aragon, as he lost a vital twelve points to Dani Pedrosa in the MotoGP championship fight for fifth overall.
Starting from a lowly tenth, Smith made his way through to sit sixth on lap seven. With Andrea Dovizioso just ahead, lapping at a slower pace, Smith was eager to get by to pull a gap on a pursuing group that included Aleix Espargaro and Cal Crutchlow.
However, a mistake while braking for turn one on lap 13 undid all his early work, from which he was never truly able to recover.
“One mistake and it means that you're eighth and not fifth,” said the 24-year old on Sunday evening. “Especially after what's not been a plain sailing weekend, it's a little bit frustrating from that point of view. I have to say, it's my fault, I'm the one that made the mistake, but considering everything, it was still nice to have the potential to fight for fifth. I didn't think that was possible before the race.
“We tried to cure a few rear problems for the race but created a few front problems. All weekend we've been trying to juggle it around, and do the best with what we could. It was nice to be out there battling Ducati, Honda, Suzuki, and Yamaha. So it's been an interesting one to see where people's strengths and weaknesses are, so it's been quite an interesting race for me, gaining a little bit of knowledge about where we're weak, where we're strong, where we need to still try to improve.
“It was my worst result of the season, and yet I can't be disappointed. I lost a lot of points unfortunately with Dani getting second, and Dovi claimed three back on me, so that's a little bit frustrating. But in terms of the way that I rode, I was pleased.”
Asked to elaborate on the mistake that pushed him off track, Smith continued, “The thing was he was really slow in the last corner, so I basically tried to get the run and at least get somewhere close where I could maybe dive in on the first corner. But then you get sucked in to the aerodynamics of that bike. With the wings and all of that, it's weird how you get a proper buffeting compared to others.
“Others you can follow in the slipstream and it's no problem at all, whereas that one it seems to unsettle the bike and has like a whirlwind effect behind it. So it's a bit weird. I don't know if it creates a better hole in the air or what, I don't know what it is. But when you get behind it, it's like you get pulled in more than with the other motorcycles. It's something I need to bear in mind for the future.”
Despite the result, which came a day after Smith stating his pleasure at his race-long consistency, he saw the positives in beating team-mate Pol Espargaro, considering the Catalan's speed in qualifying.
“I have to be happy with that. Obviously, he made the mistake and ran off track. He lost about a second more than I did when I ran wide. So a little bit more than I did, but he had plenty of laps behind me towards the end, and all the opportunities to attack and overtake me. But like you said, it was his strongest weekend for a while and I still managed to come out on top. He's the guy riding my style of bike, and he still can't do more. So even with a difficult weekend, we can still manage to beat the guy who is riding my motorcycle, so I have to pleased with that.”