Bradley Smith may have lost his full-time MotoGP ride, but he will be lining up on the grid at the 2019 Qatar season-opener.

The Englishman's new testing role with Aprilia includes 'a series' of wild-cards, a vital opportunity for the current KTM rider who is intent on regaining a MotoGP seat in 2020.

So far, only Qatar is confirmed, but the rules allow up to six wild-cards for a concession manufacturer such as Aprilia.

"The only thing confirmed at the moment is that I'll be at the Qatar test and Qatar race," Smith said. "So I will be at round one. That's obviously exciting for me. I think it's always nice to be at round one."

Smith's other 2019 race appearances will be decided after consultation with Aprilia, plus Dorna and IRTA ("the final ones that decide wild-cards"). Additional factors include PR and engineering considerations because "there's no point turning up to a race weekend with nothing new.

"We want to get the benefit from both parties, so at the moment nothing is fixed because they are developing their bike every weekend like us [KTM]. So it's very difficult to know what is going to be available at this stage."

Smith unsurprisingly confirmed he would like to race in his home grand prix at Silverstone in August, while admitting that the earlier in the season the wild-cards take place, the better it will be in terms of showcasing his talents in time for a 2020 race seat.

"But also I have to understand it's not all about putting myself in the shop window. It's about the benefit of the whole [Aprilia] project. So as a group we need to balance my career with the benefit for the factory. But I think we can do that and I think I'm a reasonable person!"

Asked why he only has a one-year test deal, when almost all 2019 MotoGP riders are starting what have been announced as two-year deals, Smith replied:

"You'd be surprised how many guys are on a one-year deal. And the chances of me getting a ride where the guys are on two-year deals probably is less likely.

"At the end of the day, I want to be here in 2020. So the plan is to work hard for the one year and be back on the grid. That's my mentality. That's what I've been telling you guys for the last month.

"So I don't look at it [testing] as longevity and if I do a good job you can get signed up for another year anyway. It's comes as a natural progression. If you don't then you'll be kicked out. It's as simple as that."

Smith also confirmed that he is considering racing in the new MotoE electric bike championship, should it not clash with his Aprilia wild-card appearances.

"It's something that's in consideration at the moment but it's far from finalised, just because we need final dates of that actual championship. You can't do two races in one day and Aprilia is my priority. If everything works then fantastic. And if it doesn’t then I'm very happy to just continue working on the MotoGP."

The Sepang team is one rumour should Smith sign-up for MotoE.

But back to this year and, although Smith is leaving KTM for their closest MotoGP rival, he does not expect to be frozen out of new parts for the remaining seven rounds.

"I sat down with KTM and the simple thing is; this [situation] isn’t my fault. That's what it comes down to and they fully appreciate and are also very supportive that I have found myself a new job," Smith explained.

"It's also in everyone's best interest to have the best possible results for the next seven races.

"Turning parts to one side isn't going to benefit the project and right now I'm the rider that is fully fit and actually performing. So there's no need to start doing that. I didn’t suddenly give up when they announced [Zarco had the 2019 seat] in May and why should it be the other way around when I announce in September?

"We just continue as we are. We are very happy with everything that is going on at the moment. So just keep the ball rolling."

Smith was 20th but within 1.62s of the top during Friday practice at Misano, where team-mate Pol Espargaro made his return from injury to set the 24th best time out of 26 riders.

The pair have been team-mates since 2014 at Tech3 Yamaha and Pol said he is happy Smith will be working with his older brother Aleix next year. Pol also thinks the riding style of the RS-GP will suit the Englishman.

"I am happy for Aleix as I know that he is going to have a good third rider," Pol said. "I have a good relationship with Bradley, he is a good guy and he is fast. We know that on the technical side he is really good and he is precise with his feelings so I think actually the Aprilia is pretty similar to the Yamaha style so I think that he is going to be comfortable on this bike and fast. I really think so.

"So I am looking forward to see what he can give to Aprilia and I am happy for him. I am not happy about his position because Aprilia will improve but I am happy that he will have a good job for next year."

 

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