At the close of a year of trials and tribulations, Bradley Smith has expressed his pleasure at reversing his fortunes and believes the manner in which he ended the MotoGP season showed, in terms of results, he is now 'where I need to be'.

In KTM’s first full year in the premier-class, Smith found himself under increasing pressure from factory management to improve on results, with test rider Mika Kallio rumoured to be in-line to replace the Englishman for 2018.

However, a September test after the Grand Prix of Aragon set the wheels in motion, allowing Smith to assess several key parts that made him feel more at home aboard the RC16.

The results soon followed.

Smith was competitive in the Japanese rain before a spirited top-ten finish at Phillip Island. The year’s final competitive outing at Valencia was further confirmation of those recent gains.

On a day when team-mate Pol Espargaro and wild-card Kallio both crashed out, Smith's five points for eleventh place were enough to elevate the factory above Aprilia to fifth in the constructors' championship - a fine achievement for a new bike and team that appear determined to maintain momentum going forward.

“Let’s be honest: you sit there after 14 races and you say, ‘If it hasn’t happened in 14 races, what are the final four going to do?’ I managed to turn it around. I’m not one of those guys to give up on anything. I can’t tell you why it took as long as it did or what was really the key factor,” he told at Valencia.

“Certainly the Aragon test was a step forward for us. I had this gut feeling with a couple of the parts that I decided to take to the flyaway races. Although I only tried them for five laps, I knew they were the ones that I needed.

“I managed to turn around what was a difficult season into something that was at least finishing strong and where I need to be. I finished the Valencia Test 0.1s from my team-mate. I was 0.6s off one of the factory Yamahas. We’ll take that.”

Smith had been full of emotion after the season-ending race, a result that was made all the sweeter by the presence of the KTM’s board in the garage. It was, said the 27-year old, a chance to remind them of his capabilities.

“I think just the fact that I managed to get the points that actually clinched fifth in the constructor’s championship, you know? That’s a goal for us. Those types of things make a difference and they do matter,” said Smith.

“The fact that I kept a couple of really strong Hondas behind me for the best part of 20 laps of the race, I’ll take that. Again, it showcased what I should be able to do and what I can do. I’m really pleased with everything that came together.

“It was nice to show the board. The board was all here at the weekend – all the big bosses. It was nice to show them who they signed is here and isn’t going away anytime soon.”


Loading Comments...