Hervé Poncharal has claimed Bradley Smith returning to his team in 2019 ‘doesn’t make sense’, and has reiterated his belief that Tech 3 has a role within KTM as a ‘junior MotoGP team’ whereby it will educate younger riders.

Upon learning of KTM’s signing of Zarco, Smith was adamant his chances of retaining a seat with the factory next year – albeit in Tech 3, its satellite squad from next year – were far from finished.

“This doesn't mean I'm out of the group, it just means that I'm out of the factory team,” the Englishman said at Jerez. “They've still got two bikes available on the grid, and they'd like to put me on one of them.”

These comments were echoed by Pit Beirer, KTM’s Motorsport Director, who stated “a really, really strong performance” from Smith in the coming races could see him find a way into the Tech 3 team next year, where he rode from 2013 to ’16.

Yet Poncharal feels this would go against what he agreed with KTM when signing to become its satellite outfit – that Tech 3’s purpose will be to nurture younger riders before a possible promotion to the factory team, “a bit like in Formula1 with Red Bull and Torro Rosso,” he said.

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“Bradley is somebody I know very well,” Poncharal told Crash.net at Jerez. “All respect for Bradley Smith. Never a negative word out of my mouth regarding Bradley Smith. I don’t know what is the situation with Pit, which is KTM, and Bradley. Bradley is a good rider.

“But I have signed – and they gave me the mission – to have young riders. This is why we don’t have Zarco in a way. Bradley was four years with us in MotoGP on a satellite M1 bike. Finally he managed, thanks to his four years, to be a full factory rider.

“That factory, for reasons I don’t know and don’t want to know, decided not to keep him. So what would be the sense of this guy being in the factory team, the factory team not wanting to retain him – for reasons, you have to ask them – and then coming back for the same factory in their junior operations, which has the mission to educate riders that will eventually be promoted to the factory team, where he was, but he couldn’t keep his seat.

“The message is completely impossible to understand for me. So no.”

Poncharal went on to clarify: “I’m not saying ‘No’ to Bradley. I have the mission with the sponsor I’m talking to, with the factory I have signed for: ‘You will be the junior team.’ Do you think [Daniel] Ricciardo or [Max] Verstappen, if they don’t sign for Red Bull, they will go back to Torro Rosso? It makes no sense.

“We are a junior team. For the first time it will be a complimentary service [between Tech 3 and KTM]. Why? You’ve done six years in MotoGP. And honestly, Pit never talked to me about that. Bradley never contacted me. He could have come to say, ‘Hello’ or whatever.

“But I never heard this story. I heard, yes, because he mentioned to some media that he lost his ride but there were still two KTMs available. Now there is only one because Miguel has one. No. I don’t want to say anything bad, but that doesn’t make sense for me.”

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