The season obviously started well in Qatar but having had three days testing there how big a role did that play in the strong performance?

Bradley Smith:
Having the extra track time in Qatar was obviously really good for us. Qatar is a special track and it takes a little bit of time to get used to the feeling there, the track is a little slippery so having three days there helped and we did two practice race simulations and we really knew everything inside and out.

I think that I also knew that weekend was the best opportunity that we would have for a podium. It was the first race and the bikes we had were very similar to the bikes that Jorge and Valentino were riding and it was the first race of the season and we all know that anything can happen there.

We've seen surprise winners at the first round of the season and it obviously was going very well for us there. We started on the front and the race was going really well but I was riding a little bit over the limit, that's kind of expected I suppose, and it ended up not in the best way but it certainly gave me confidence and some belief going into the future but it also maybe created a bit too much expectation from others. I don't think that everyone really understood what sort of an advantage we had that weekend having tested there.

At Austin I finished top Yamaha so that was very positive. Obviously Jorge jumpstarted and Valentino had a tyre problem, but I was pleased with what I came away with from there and I was top Yamaha and we had done the best that we could at a track that Yamaha riders have struggled at in the past.

Argentina was tough and it took me a while to get used to the track and get it all figured out. We went for a risk with the front tyre in the race, it wasn't the best and I was locking it in a straight line, so I didn't show any potential in the race because it was just a case of getting through the race and try and bring home as many points as you can.

Based on what we learned in Argentina we decided to change chassis and try a project with Yamaha in both Jerez and Le Mans. We tried things that we [thought] would be better but they were things that no-one really knew if they worked. So in theory it sounded great but no-one knew if it would actually work and it didn't! I had the most amount of crashes that I've had in a short amount of time.
How much of a help is Guy [Coulon, crew chief] when you have to make so many big changes to the bike, or does the rider have to make a decision to go in a certain direction?

Bradley Smith:
I suppose that I wanted to see if I could make it work and if there was something inside the Yamaha that someone hadn't tried enough. It could have gone one of two ways, it could give me half a second a lap or it could take away half a second a lap. Unfortunately it took the time away but I was willing to take that risk and there was actually a lot of positives from the setup that I could feel but we just couldn't find a setting to make it safe enough for me to work.

My corner speed and entry speed really went up and I could brake late but we just couldn't get the rest of the settings to make it work. I suppose that I was the rider on the bike and I was the reason that the frame stayed in longer than it should have because I could feel this positiveness and I knew that if we could find this setting we could make it work. But I suppose that the reason why it wasn't on the Factory bikes was because they tried the same settings but couldn't make it work either.

So that was frustrating because I lost Jerez and Le Mans and then we went to Mugello and it was one of those weekends with patchy weather and I was going there with low confidence because I had some crashes in the previous races and we had to put in our old chassis and try and find a solution to the problem over a race weekend. I ended up crashing in the race because I didn't really know the bike underneath me.

The change in events for me was getting through the Barcelona event and doing the Barcelona test. That was when we finally nailed everything that we wanted to try and since then it's been really consistent and really fast...except for Sachsenring!
What happened in Germany?

Bradley Smith:
Sachsenring is still very difficult for me to explain. A lot came down to my attitude and I had decided after watching a lot of videos of other riders in the championship that I wasn't taking enough risks. It didn't look like I was riding hard enough. When I watched me riding I looked safe and I decided that my inner voice or my feedback was being too conservative.
Is that something that you had all the way through your career? In 125s your wins always seemed to be a case of getting to the front and making a gap to the field but when you were in the pack it was much tougher to battle through.

Bradley Smith:
Yes and no. One thing was that in those lower class days I didn't learn two different styles of riding and I only rode one way. That way of riding was fine when I was on my own but when I was around other riders it wasn't fine. I think that was my biggest problem back in the 125 days because I didn't have enough tools in my tool box. I had one card and if that card worked, as we saw with my victories being pretty dominant, I just disappeared and that was it.
Do you think does that come back to having made your decision to stop Motocross and go road racing so quickly and going into the World Championship after only two years of circuit racing?

Bradley Smith:
Yeah, it wasn't a lot [of time]. I think that it was a little bit that but also I never did Minimoto and I think Minimoto teaches you those aggressive passes, but I did come from Superteens so it's a bit difficult to explain exactly where it came from.

Going back to Sachsenring even though we had all the crashes we made the traction control setting that is now like the Factory setting. I was riding around there with setting that I thought was the one to use because I never really looked too much at what the other Yamaha riders were doing.

At Sachsenring where it's all left, left, left, off cambers over crests I got caught out quite often and when you add that to the attitude of 'I need to ride harder' even when the bike is sliding and in the end I just put myself on the ground a few too many times that weekend.
Apart from putting yourself under pressure to change your style and be more aggressive how much pressure did you put yourself under to make sure that you had a contract for next year?

Bradley Smith:
I think that pressure was there but I don't think that it was the reason behind it in Sachsenring. I was trying to prove my speed by doing a magic result rather than just doing the best that I can. I was expecting in Sachsenring to do a one in five season race.

We see that sometimes from riders where they just pull it out of the bag and I was trying to pull it out. I thought that with it being slow and tight and twisty that I could do it if I took enough risks and pushed forward maybe I could do it and with a magic result I would guarantee my bits and pieces [for 2015].

I went to Indy and I was much more relaxed having thought about things over the summer break and even though I finished sixth in the race that was enough for me to get my ride. It made me reassess what was expected of me. I always thought that maybe Yamaha and Herve [Poncharal, Tech 3] expected me to be able to fight with the blue bikes but actually if we can be the best of the satellite bikes that's where we need to be.

I suppose that realigned my expectations, we don't really talk about that as a team, but it realigned my vision of what it expected. It's also made the rest of the season easier because while we want to be as close as we can to the blue bikes and in front of them in some practice but we know that considering their package compared to ours fifth or sixth is where we're focusing on. That's made me focus more on what I can control rather than what I can't and have a more realistic target.
Would you say that having come into the team last year and having seen Cal [Crutchlow] start on the front row, get some poles and finish on the podium that internally you then thought it was expected of you to continue that form?

Bradley Smith:
Yeah exactly. That was a little bit of an underlying thing but one thing that I've learned is that each year changes and that's the truth. Each year changes, and not taking anything away from what Cal was able to do because he earned his podiums but at the beginning of last year there was injuries and Valentino was on his first year back on the Yamaha.

Cal was riding awesome at the right time to take advantage of the situation whereas this year it seems that everyone is healthy, fit, fast and confident and can bang in results left, right and centre. Honda and Yamaha are fighting tooth and nail amongst themselves to put themselves above everyone else which then means that the satellite riders get left behind a bit in terms of development.

Internally Honda and Yamaha are fighting against each other and that's always going to create a gap and a void and we just have to accept that and reassess that, even race by race.

If you look at the first race of the season we showed that we can do what Cal did but then it because quickly apparent in Jerez, when there was a new chassis for Yamaha, that a gap started to grow and then you have to just be realistic about what is obtainable and it became fifth and sixth.

Right now Ducati is improving with Dovizioso and Iannone and that could also mean that we get shuffled back to seventh and eighth but we just have to accept that is the situation.


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