While Bradley Smith still yearns for a full-time MotoGP ride, the Englishman would be 'very happy' to remain at Aprilia for the second year of his current contract.

After six-seasons, two podiums and a peak of sixth in the world championship while racing for Tech3 Yamaha and then Red Bull KTM, Smith switched to test and wild-cards duties for Aprilia this season, plus an entry in the inaugural MotoE series.

Having initially pondered retirement, Smith made clear his goal this season was to try and secure a full-time MotoGP return. But with very few seats available for 2020, the 28-year-old is content with his current programme.

"I have a two-year contract here [at Aprilia]," Smith said of next season. "Right now I'm very happy with what's going on; the amount of tests that I'm doing and the five wild-cards that I have, it's the best of the non-full-time rides that I could wish for.

"I hope even after the hiccup [in Catalunya, colliding with team-mate Aleix Espargaro] Aprilia are happy with all the work that I'm doing and MotoE also gives me another focus to look to.

"The balance of the two [MotoGP and MotoE] seems quite nice and gives me plenty of time to be here racing, because that's what I still want to be doing.

"If an opportunity pops up for a full-time [2020] ride then of course I'm going to jump at it, but also understanding that the likelihood of that isn’t massive at this point in the season."

While Smith's three wild-card appearances so far have yielded only a best of 17th, his top priority is to help accelerate the development of next year's RS-GP by "giving engineers a direction from the electronic and chassis side".

Smith explained that while the forthcoming Brno test, where Yamaha hopes to debut its 2020 prototype, looks a little too soon for the new Aprilia, it should not be too far behind.

"The main objective is working towards getting an early 2020 bike out from Aprilia and to the factory riders so that we then have the opportunity to make version two, version three - like our competitors," Smith said.

"Almost everyone rolls out a 2020 bike in August, we won't be able to do that but we only expect to be four-to-six weeks behind that and that's a massive step forward compared to where we were this year.

"So the company is understanding what we need and getting well ahead of the game from previous years. My job is to help steer that and get the ball rolling for the future."

While Smith was coy about the exact areas targetted for improvement, he confirmed that traction is now the "golden ticket" in MotoGP.

Aprilia's top rider Aleix Espargaro expressed frustration at the pace of upgrades earlier in the season, looking on enviously at the new parts being delivered to younger brother Pol at KTM.

But Smith, who spent two years alongside Pol at the Austrian factory, feels no other manufacturer can match KTM's production speed - while insisting Aprilia is a close second.

"You have to bear in mind that KTM have the possibility to make everything in-house, WP is just across the way, the boss owns both, he's willing to stop production and make sure that chassis are built and ready for the next weekend," Smith said.

"Nobody has that turnaround process. Aprilia has the second-best, I honestly believe that, closely followed by Ducati for example and then the Japanese are another step behind everybody else.

"So I'm pleased with the rate of turnaround we [at Aprilia] are able to do, but KTM is on another level from that point, also budgets and all of that type of thing.

"I can understand Aleix's frustration, trust me I'm trying as much as I can to steer everything in the right direction. I think also we are being very thorough because of last year's difficulties with the 2018 bike, we don’t want to rush anything and go the wrong way.

"But I have every confidence in the next few months Aleix will see some upgrades that he needs and is wishing for and that will also turn into results on the race track."

Espargaro and new team-mate Andrea Iannone are 14th and 15th respectively in the world championship, with a best race result so far of ninth (Espargaro, Argentina).

Aprilia is nine points from KTM in the battle to avoid sixth and last in the constructors' standings.

Smith finished second for the Sepang team in the inaugural MotoE race at Sachsenring.

 

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