Bradley Smith has revealed he is edging closer to confirming his role as Aprilia’s MotoGP test rider for 2019 while reiterating a aim of being a full-time presence in the paddock the following year.

This weekend Smith’s manager Bob Moore will meet with factory bosses – present for the year’s second Italian Grand Prix – to confirm the deal. “Hopefully we can announce something over these few days,” said Smith.

The deal to become test rider in Aprilia’s revised test team should provide Smith with several wildcard appearances, and the chance to “put myself in the shop window” for 2020.

The 28-year old MotoGP podium finisher was in the running for testing roles with both KTM and Yamaha. The former, however, appears unwilling to offer up the wildcard appearances that Smith wants, while Jonas Folger is the favourite to take on the role for the latter.

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“At the end of the day there’s no point hiding from it,” began Smith on Thursday afternoon. “In Silverstone the final nail in the coffin came from Lin Jarvis [Yamaha managing director] when he said there would be no British rider as a test rider.

“That [Aprilia] is my option. I already spoke to Aleix [Espargaro] in Austria. At the end of the day I feel like I have a lot to offer. Also I’m not done. When you’re not done, the motivation is high. I’ve said before I want to be back inside this paddock full-time in 2020.

“The motivation is high to help the whole project and ride well myself and put myself in the shop window. As long as that’s managed in the right way in the team structure, it’s certainly not a negative thing to be [a test rider]. Having wildcards available is always a good incentive for the rider and also a good incentive for the project. Everyone pushes on and pushes forward.

“It’s an Italian GP so all the bosses are here so hopefully something can be finalised once my manager turns up and we can announce something over these few days.”

Does he feel it will take much adaption to become a full-time test rider? “At the end of the day it’s about putting the best shape that it can possibly be, and pushing the project in the way forward,” came the response.

“Having someone that just does mileage is one thing; having someone on the lap time and on the limit is another. I think in grand prix racing it’s always important to put the bike on the limit.

“We saw a very positive effect within the team by having Mika [Kallio – KTM test rider] here. It wasn’t managed in the right way at certain moments but it was certainly great having him at all the tests and all the race weekends. It kept pushing all three of us forward in a dynamic way and that’s the only way to get there in Grand Prix racing.

“Look at Ducati for example. They have three or four top factory bikes on the grid. For [Danilo] Petrucci to be riding, [Jack] Miller is on a good package, [Alvaro] Bautista is on a good package. That makes sure the top boys are on their toes. As long as it’s managed in the right way then it can be nothing but a positive.”

On the weekend ahead, Smith confirmed he will try KTM’s ‘prototype 2019 engine’, while adding, “I think Misano is always one of those weekends that everyone looks forward to. I don’t know whether it’s because I love racing in Italy or not, but it’s always fun. The fact that you’re down at sea level means the bikes are at maximum power which is always nice.

“I think we’re going to struggle initially because we weren’t here for the test. Quite a few guys are going to be up and on the pace [early on] after looking at some of the lap times from the test. Ducati don’t seem to be struggling! It’s going to be a tough one.

“We had two positive days at Aragon under our belt, which obviously sets us up for the next GP a little bit better, so you have to sometimes take the rough with the smooth. I feel ready for the weekend. Silverstone, I was constantly inside the top 15, even in the dry. Qualifying was fun. I enjoyed the weekend. We’ll see what this one brings.”



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