Sunday’s season closing Valencia Grand Prix marks the end of Bradley Smith’s rookie season. The Englishman, who holds the record for most points by a British rookie, came into the premier class with Tech3 having received lots of criticism for promoting Smith but throughout the year Smith has progressed and shown that he deserves his place amongst the world’s elite riders.
Having ridden a MotoGP bike for the first time at the post Valencia Grand Prix test twelve months ago Smith spoke about his progression over the last year and what he has learned:
“I only learned from that test that MotoGP is scary!,” said Smith. “It’s less scary now but some of this stuff is nuts and how hard we have to ride these motorcycles is still way beyond what you think possible. Philip Island was one of those places that was a real eye opener. It’s not comfortable that’s for certain but it’s absolutely fun!
“I think that scary for us is a form of fun and interest. You really feel that the rider can make a difference and the rider has to. With these electronic aids you have to find a way of squeezing everything out of the bike. You’ve got more than enough power to get the job done but you’ve got to find the best way to get that out onto the race track.
“That’s one of the things that the riders enjoy about riding in MotoGP but it’s one of the difficult things in races because if you turn up and someone has a better bike that it doesn’t really matter what you do it’s very difficult to make up that difference and that’s what we see with the factory boys. Whoever has the right setting at that track is able to have that lead but we’re talking three seconds over 25 laps which is nothing.”
When asked what has been the biggest challenge for him during the season Smith admitted that being able to process everything that comes at you on a prototype was difficult. Moving from Moto2 to MotoGP meant jumping onto a 260 bhp machine capable of much higher speeds and where the challenge lies in being able to adapt and comprehend everything that occurs in advance to be prepared to react:
“Being able to ride at 350 kmp/h and not feel it’s fast is one of the things with this machine. How fast you accelerate and how quickly things come towards and being able to slow that down in your head has been one of the things. You can’t teach yourself that it you have to ride a whole season to let it happen.”