Bradley Smith has not given up hope of competing in the MotoGP class aboard KTM machinery in 2019 after admitting it was “hard to swallow” the news of the Austrian factory’s acquisition of Johann Zarco for next season.

On Friday it was announced the Frenchman – twice a world champion in Moto2 – would join Pol Espargaro in KTM’s factory team in 2019, effectively pushing Smith out of the squad. However, that is not to say the Englishman “is out of the group.”

KTM’s agreement to join forces with Tech 3, Smith’s old team, from the end of the year means there are two seats still up for grabs in the satellite outfit, an option he feels could be viable to maintain his presence in the premier class.

“Let's not beat around the bush,” began Smith. “The simple thing is that you're not out of a job, but you're out of the team. Which initially is always hard to swallow, but I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't know that was on the cards.

“KTM were always quite open and honest, that they were going after a top rider, and that meant that the battle was between me and Pol for ride number two in the factory squad. So yeah, he outperformed me on a strong basis last year, this year in the opening three races, things just didn't go quite as well as during the race weekends, so race-wise, the results weren't all that great.

“So it makes sense, you know, it all adds up, it's all OK. The nice thing about it all – and KTM will tell you this as well – is that this announcement doesn't mean I'm out of the group, it just means that I'm out of the factory team.

“They've still got two bikes available on the grid, and they'd like to put me on one of them, and they can sit and wait and decide what they want to do, when they want to do that, and if my results warrant that. But right now, that's the main focus for us as a group, that option is available to me.”

CrashTV: 

Asked how he would feel returning to Hervé Poncharal’s team, in which he worked for four seasons, from 2013 to ’16, Smith said recent results prove satellite machines can regularly compete with their factory contemporaries. “Why not?” he pondered.

“I think a lot of it obviously depends on, when we try some new parts, to see how the progression is going, how the 2019 bike potentially is going to look. Which is something which is available to have a look at. I think you have to ride it and see, basically see the progression rate.

“And also then when everything is now settled from the factory team, how it is actually going to lie and sit with a satellite team, in terms of factory support and the general parameters and borders and philosophy that KTM wants to do there.

“It's not something that I've even thought about or even talked about at the moment, because they've been trying to fix the factory team, and obviously I've been trying to keep myself in that team, but why not?

“If you look at what Zarco is doing at the moment on a satellite project, if you have a look at what Cal is doing there on a satellite project, if you have a look at Petrucci last year at certain events, and even at the beginning of this year. Jack the same story.

“It seems to be the last few years that the satellite bikes are still there and still moving forward, the new regulations from Dorna help with all of that. All of them are quite interesting, and you have to keep your ear on the ground on everything, and keep your mind open.”

And what of the options beyond Tech 3? “We have to keep all options open,” Smith said. “My manager is here again this weekend, and of course we'll be speaking to everybody. He knows where I want to be, where I want to ride, and he knows where my priority is, but obviously he wouldn't be doing his job as a manager if he didn't explore all options.

“So he'll present whatever is available on the table, and when the right time to decide comes, then that's what it is. But as with everything, the better results I get, the easier his job becomes, and the better the options which become available to you. So I just concentrate on doing the job well. I've done the best I can over the last few months, and I just focus on that.”

CrashTV: 

Comments

Loading Comments...