Bradley Smith's early summer announcement that he was contemplating retirement sent tongues wagging, but also set his mind in motion.

Is this really what I want?

It was a question the factory KTM rider has contemplated in the two months since, but in Brno he came clean; there's “unfinished business” on the track.

The 27-year-old has miles on the tyres, but he's far from tired with life in MotoGP. Speaking before the race he assessed the situation and admitted he didn't want to take what he perceived as a backwards step in his career. 



“At the time I thought I'd got to the end of the road in my career,” said Smith about his Mugello announcement. “I thought what more is there for me to do? I was top satellite rider. I've been a factory rider.

"The last couple of years haven't gone the way that I'd like but I'm a slow burner. I'm now getting the results I should be getting but I build into things. It doesn't always help me in situations.

“When I talked about retiring I felt it was the end of the road for me. What else is there for me to do in MotoGP? I was never going to get a Factory Ducati, Factory Yamaha or Factory Suzuki based on these last couple of years. I started to look at what’s next for me and how to challenge myself.”

Initially considering options to remain in the paddock in a non-riding role, Smith is now certain he wants to stay in the saddle and is weighing up two different directions.

The safest for the long term would be staying in MotoGP as a test rider, with a maximum of five wild-cards through the season. But the risky choice - a return to Moto2, where he took three podiums for Tech3 - is the one that seems more interesting to the Oxfordshire native.

Toni Elias is the only rider I can think of that's gone somewhere else and gotten back to MotoGP. I’m not flavour of the month at the moment, but I’ll do everything that I can next year so that I’m back here in MotoGP in 2020. That’s my new challenge. It’s my next focus.

“Stepping back to Moto2, by its nature, is setting yourself up for absolute failure. A test ride is certainly a more comfortable future. Folger is a good example at the moment. He’s going into a comfy seat where if he's fast he can try and get back and if not then he can just do the test riding job. Going back to Moto2 takes balls!

“That's the scale for your decision. The question is if I'm thinking about one more year or am I going to try and set myself up for the next five? I love testing and I very rarely steer someone down the wrong direction but this world isn't just about passion; it's a business too.

“When I first mentioned retiring I wasn't willing to look at taking a step back. Now I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that I actually get the opportunity to show what I can really do.

"I want to finish the business that I never had the chance to do in Moto2. I want to get back to a situation that I get a chance to show what I can do.”

With Moto2 switching from 600cc Honda to 765cc Triumph three-cylinder power in 2019, plus a new ECU, the class will undergo a massive shift. The experience of six years in MotoGP, including two podiums, would certainly make Smith an attractive proposition for the top teams…


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