11 October 2016
MotoGP Japan: Bradley Smith 'excited to be back'
Bradley Smith making MotoGP return in this weekend's Japanese round
Bradley Smith will return from injury at this weekend's Japanese MotoGP, to start the final stages of a Tech 3 career that stretches back to 2011.
The Englishman has been sidelined for three events after knee ligament damage during a one-off appearance in the World Endurance championship.
"I am excited about jumping back on my YZR-M1 and even though I know it will be a challenging race, I am determined and I will do my very best," Smith said. "It will be the first time that I can ride a MotoGP bike after seven weeks and even though I am almost fit, it will take me a bit of time to fully adjust.
"This will be the initial goal of the weekend, but I am confident that I can quickly get up to speed again. Japan is a special place, with it being the home of Yamaha and also the country where I won the Suzuka 8 Hours event last year. Plus, the fans are fantastic and really supportive which will motivate me even further.
"However, I know this weekend will be physically demanding due to the stop and go nature of the circuit, plus, there are a lot of hard braking corners, but I am certain that we can start the flyaway races positively before we head to Phillip Island."
“I want to warmly welcome Bradley back after his time on the sidelines due to his knee injury," added team manager Herve Poncharal. "He worked really hard and his recovery has been impressive so we must commend him for this. No doubt Motegi will be a tricky event for him after so many weeks without riding, but we will work non-stop to make sure that he can do the best that he can."
Both Smith and team-mate Pol Espargaro are moving to the new factory KTM team next season. The Spaniard is aiming to sign-off his Tech 3 career by bridging the nine-point gap to top satellite rider Cal Crutchlow.
"As always, I am excited about going to Japan and I fully intend to score a strong result to repay Yamaha on their home soil," Espargaro said. "The Japanese fans are special to me and I have had many good times in the country, such as the two victories in the Suzuka 8 Hours event for the Factory Yamaha Racing Team and also sealing the 2013 Moto2 World Championship after winning the GP that year.
"Therefore, the race in Motegi always has a special place in my heart and this year I will give my all again. We have had a bit of an up and down time recently, but with two weeks off after the Aragon GP, which I finished in 8th, I feel fully prepared and confident. The Motegi circuit is a demanding one, especially with regards to braking, but the Tech3 team and I will get straight to work and I am sure that we can have a solid opening day, which will set me up for a strong result at the end of the weekend."
"Pol will be fired up and determined for the Japanese Grand Prix with his sights set on acquiring the leading satellite honours on Sunday afternoon," stated Poncharal "It's important to get a decent start to these three races and we are confident that he can fight as close as possible to the factory MotoGP riders."
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