Bradley Smith has stated he is “under no illusions” with regards to his current position at KTM after a run of difficult results, and believes the race at Aragon - round 14 of the current season - could be crucial in deciding his situation for 2018.

KTM’s CEO Stefan Pierer and motorsport director Pit Beirer both had strong words for the Englishman in the immediate aftermath of the Austrian Grand Prix, suggesting factory test rider Mika Kallio could take Smith’s full-time racing seat for 2018 if improvements weren't forthcoming.

An internal change was the result of Austrian outing, with Smith’s crew chief Tom Jojic moving aside for the British Grand Prix, with Esteban Garcia, previously with Kallio, moving across to the Englishman’s corner for the remainder of the year.

It was also confirmed that Kallio would have another wild card appearance at Aragon, and Smith has acknowledged “there will be some big questions asked” if the Finn is to repeat his feats of the race at the Red Bull Ring, where he finished eight places and 16 seconds ahead of the Englishman.

“I’m under no illusions that the pressure is on me in particular, and the team after the recent run of bad results,” Smith wrote in his blog for the official MotoGP website. “The KTM team and especially the guys in my garage have been fantastic and I have their total support.

“I have a new crew chief which hopefully will help me and the team put together a bike that will bring me some results. Esteban has a wealth of knowledge and experience and from day zero with me he has taken up the challenge.

“It’s not easy for him coming into the team that is really struggling rather than a team that is producing results but he’s right up for it. Silverstone was never going to be easy because it was KTM’s first visit and we had no previous data and so as we often have to do we started from scratch.

“Misano should be different. We tried a different way of running the weekend at Silverstone, spending the first day on Friday using the same tyres for the two practice sessions. We are looking at every way of turning things round. You can’t produce miracles overnight in this game but every small step leads to better results.

“As I said I’m under no illusions about this situation. KTM have been fantastic and especially Team Manager Mike Leitner. They really want me to succeed and are doing everything possible to help me.

“However the Grand Prix after Misano is at Aragon in Spain where test rider Mika Kallio joins me and Pol in the team. If Mika beats me by the same margin as he did in Austria a couple of weeks ago I’m sure there will be some big questions asked.

“The external pressure is different but I’ve felt it before from the press and social media. It’s all part and parcel of this job. I do get interrogated by the press at our debriefs after qualifying and race which is understandable with the ways things stand at the moment.”

Smith had another tough race at Silverstone, where he finished 17th and 18 seconds back of team-mate Pol Espargaro. The 26-year old believes the hotter afternoon temperatures meant his tyre choice of hard compound front and rear was far from ideal.

“Wrong tyre choice in the hotter than expected conditions was the problem in the race after I made my best start of the season,” he wrote. “While the grip was there I felt great and aggressive but when the grip disappeared I just had to ensure I completed the race.

“As always I will try and find some positives from those opening eight laps when I was pushing forward on the hard tyres and how I felt better in some of the practice sessions. The next race is at Misano in Italy where we had a really good test before Silverstone and so we will arrive with some good data and set up plans.”

Smith sits 22nd in the championship standings, with eight points to his name.



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