Bradley Smith goes into his first British Grand Prix as a Moto2 rider since 2012 without expectation but sees “no reason [why] Sunday can’t be good for us” after a positive test at Mallory Park on Wednesday.

The Englishman was announced as a shock replacement rider for the injured Khairul Idham Pawi in the Petronas Sprinta Racing’s Moto2 operation for the upcoming weekend after he pressed Team Principle Johan Stigefelt for the ride.

Three times a podium finisher in grand prix racing’s intermediate category, Smith acknowledged he has a task on his hands this weekend. “I’m coming into the middle of a championship and it’s a championship where 25 guys are separated by one second,” he said.

But Friday morning won’t be completely blind for the rider who has completed three MotoGP races in 2019 as Aprilia’s test rider, as well as two in MotoE. A 40-lap stint at Mallory Park allowed him to familiarise himself with the Triumph 765 engine, Kalex chassis and Dunlop’s tyres.

“I was really happy how everything was going with the team in MotoE," said Smith. "I wasn’t able to sort out a wildcard for Aprilia here. It was something on the cards a few months ago. But with the confirmation of the Finland test there was no way logistically we could manage it.

“I was a bit cocky on Saturday after the [MotoE] front row in Austria and started putting pressure on Stiggy from that moment. Here we are at the British Grand Prix. It’s all I really wanted to do. We’re here. We’re ready and we’re going to give it a go.

“I don’t have any expectations, honestly. I don’t know where I’m at. I rode 40 laps yesterday at Mallory Park. Mallory Park is not Silverstone. But to get a feeling for the engine, the gearbox, just to feel comfortable.

“It certainly makes for an easier FP1 tomorrow. I already know how I will feel. I’m coming into the middle of a championship and it’s a championship where 25 guys are separated by one second. Unless you are really on the pace you could be 25th.

“But if I wasn’t prepared for that and I wasn’t ready to accept that challenge then I wouldn’t be here. If I didn’t think I could do it, I wouldn’t have signed up for it. Friday morning is going to suck. I’m expecting it to be difficult.

“If I work the way I normally do and make the progress I know I can there’s no reason why we can’t get ourselves into some kind of position. There’s no reason Sunday can’t be good for us.”

Smith has had to adapt to different types of machine quickly throughout this year. At the Catalan Grand Prix, for example, he was a wildcard aboard Aprilia’s RS-GP. Two days later he tested Energica’s MotoE machine at Valencia before returning to Montmeló for a further day on MotoGP machinery.

Such experiences will, he feels, help his cause this weekend. “In the past I would never say I’m the guy to do these kinds of things. I’m a diesel. I take time to warm up and sometimes it’s way too long.

“This season I’ve been forced to adapt and to adapt quickly and get up to speed. That will be no different tomorrow. Even more so with the test riding I’ve been doing with different settings and different bikes, different set-ups. You have to do that on a daily basis.

“I’m very aware of what’s going on. I’m pleased with the outcome of yesterday and we’ll see tomorrow how it goes.”

Does he feel daunted by the possibility of pitting himself against the Moto2 contingent with limited prior experience? “Yeah, absolutely,” he said. “But that’s part of the challenge. There is a lot of talking to be done this afternoon. Like, ‘Teach me what I need to know.’

“Obviously we know after MotoGP the first laps of Moto2 the track is in really good condition. That’s another thing to be taken into account. About the new traction controls that are here. It’s not like MotoGP but there is still stuff available.

“I’m trying to be a sponge, probably asking too many questions for them and slowing down the adaptation and building the garage. The more I know the more I can think about.”

It’s been a hectic fortnight for Smith, who tested at Finland’s new KymiRing circuit earlier this week.

“Honestly it was a different race track to anything we’ve seen before," he said of the track. "It worries me, certain aspects of the track … when you put a whole load of guys and try and race around there that’s my question mark. I put my three ideas forward as a proposal in terms of one was just track layout, one particular area, and then a couple were cambers.

“We’ll see what happens. We have a year. I believe in Franco Uncini [FIM Safety Officer], in the FIM. The FIA and Liberty will go there at the end of the month and give their opinions. In the end we’ll be fine to race there next season.”

On what aspects worried him, Smith added, “Not wide enough and a little bit too tight. If there was a mistake there are a few corners where you could easily run off one and join another track with certain chicanes. Things like that.”

In light of Johann Zarco’s shock decision to leave KTM at the end of this year, Smith also confirmed his interest in returning to the Red Bull-backed MotoGP team in 2020 should the opportunity arise.

“I’d be happy to finish what I started,” he said.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...