Bradley Smith believes his 13th place finish at the Sachsenring in wet conditions did little to reflect the potential he showed throughout the weekend, after he was forced to complete the wet part of the race without a left knee slider.
The Englishman was left cursing a careless move from Yonny Hernandez on the second lap, which so nearly took the Tech 3 Yamaha rider down, and removed the knee slider, upon which riders heavily rely for feel in wet conditions.
“I don't know where he thought he was going,” said Smith. “There was no room. He crashed. I was on the apex and he just let go of the brake and ran in the side of me. I don't know what he was trying to achieve. He ran over my knee slider so [I was thinking], 'Where are you going?'”
Having ended lap one in 14th, the incident pushed Smith all the way back to 19th and last place. Only when he pitted for intermediate tyres on lap 18 and had the chance to replace the missing knee slider did he begin to move up the leader board.
“I was trying to signal to the guys that I had no knee slider and they figured it out eventually. It was just frustrating. After faffing around I got on the bike. Once I got my head into it I believe that we had very good pace on the intermediates.
“I was one of the fastest guys on that for a bit. We can take some positives from there but I'm heartbroken that it's ended like this once again. Another promising weekend where we were close… 13th wasn't ideal but we were close. It's just a frustrating one."
On the significance of having a knee slider in those conditions, he added, “This kind of issue makes it worse because you're not really concentrating. On the left hand side you've got no confidence and no feeling. It's just a knock on effect.
“There is a lot of frustration. You try to keep it out of your head as much as possible but you can't help but feel, 'Why me? What was Yonny doing? He's a flipping idiot. Etc, etc.' There are negative thoughts.
“Like I said, I believe I made the right call on when to come in. I could have done it earlier but I'll analyse the data and figure that out. Once again we did a good weekend but just have nothing to show for it.”
“It's amazing how you go from the wets to the slicks and the profile is completely different. The bike feels 100 kilos heavier. It no longer turns into the corner. It's a really weird feeling in the opening laps so I lost a bit of time there.
“It's worthwhile trying to train that more because we're starting to have more and more of these races. The first couple of years we barely had anything. We need to make sure we're prepared for this.”
Reflecting on how Michelin's wet tyres performed compared to Assen three weeks before, Smith said, “They did a good job.
“They acted appropriately. It was a little bit frustrating that they had it inside their workshop somewhere and it wasn't at the track in Assen. They acted very quickly two weeks later. Like we saw the tyres were much better today.”