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Smith column: Signing for Aspar.

Let's start with some good news because there has not been too much of it about in the last couple of weeks in both Japan and Australia.

I've signed a deal to ride for the Spanish-based Aspar Aprilia team for the next two years. It's a great compliment and a bit of a surprise to me because being honest, I've not had the best of seasons and I also turned them down at the end of last season.

Despite this they kept up their interest in signing me when there are other riders around who are having a better season than me. It's a great team to join because they have won world championships, Jorge Martinez the team owner is a multiple world champion and I will be in the same team as Gabor Talmacsi and Alvaro Bautista who are former world champions.

I will continue riding in the 125cc class next season but have an option to ride in the 250cc class with them a year later. It's great to be sorted out for the next two years but I feel so sorry for my present team, who will not be running next year.

Understandably because of the economic situation Polaris World can't sponsor the team and so everybody will be looking for new jobs. I feel really gutted for them because they are good people who have spent so much time and effort on my behalf. There is nothing I want more than win one of the last two remaining grands prix for them to say thank-you.

I really thought I was in with a chance in both Japan and Australia of doing just that but I returned home on that long journey from Australia with no points whatsoever. I'm so disappointed but things are just not going our way at the moment.

At Motegi in Japan after almost being brought down by some crazy riders at the first bend I was lapping well when the engine broke. Even Aprilia don't know what the problem was but it was on the plane to Australia with no points. The weekend in Australia was certainly full of incidents but not the kind you want.

I qualified on the front row for the race in second place despite crashing in both qualifying session in both wet and dry conditions. I made a great start and was 0.7 of a second in front by the time we reached the hairpin on the first lap. I knew I had to be careful especially on the right side of the tyre with so many left hand corners and went into the hairpin three miles per hour slower than I had in the morning warm-up. I did not even have my knee on the ground and kept the angle of lean down to a minimum but down I went. The only reason must have been the wind blowing off the Bass straight and the only consolation I had was that three other riders went down at the same place in the first couple of laps.

I managed to get back on the bike although the handlebars were bent inwards and it was more like riding a pushbike with bent handlebars. I kept going and was up into 17th place on the last lap when I hit a bump at the fast Hayshed corner and the handlebars hit the frame. I crashed at around 125mph and still have plenty of bruises to show for it. Phillip Island is such a fast circuit and Valentino Rossi's crash on Saturday showed just have deceptively quick it is until you see a rider crash.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Smith, Australian 125GP Race 2008
Smith, San Marino MotoGP Race 2014
Smith, San Marino MotoGP 2014
Smith, San Marino MotoGP 2014
Smith, San Marino MotoGP 2014
Smith, San Marino MotoGP 2014
Smith, San Marino MotoGP 2014
Smith, San Marino MotoGP 2014
Smith, San Marino MotoGP 2014
Smith, San Marino MotoGP 2014
Smith, San Marino MotoGP 2014
Smith, San Marino MotoGP 2014
Smith, San Marino MotoGP 2014
Smith, San Marino MotoGP 2014
Smith, San Marino MotoGP 2014
Smith, San Marino MotoGP 2014
Smith, San Marino MotoGP 2014
Smith, San Marino MotoGP 2014

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