Bradley Smith: "Espargaro beating me in his first season was difficult to swallow"

Bradley Smith has had a good couple of months, heading over to Japan and securing the victory aboard the new Yamaha R1 on their 60th anniversary and resigning for another season with Monster

Smith in action at Silverstone

Photo: Monster Tech 3

Yamaha Tech 3, he went into his home round feeling more relaxed and positive.

Making it safely into qualifying two on Saturday, Smith was then able to secure a top seven finish in wet conditions, which despite being apprehensive about he was able to finally feel confident in wet conditions.

PaddockChatter caught up with Smith before his home race:

Congratulations on resigning, was it important to get it out of the way before Silverstone?
“During the last couple of races it’s been quite a mental toll. At the end of the day this is my life and my dream so when you’re speaking so passionately about that, you feel drained. You’re pouring everything out there, it’s difficult to swallow certain emotions at certain points. So it’s nice to get that out of the way and to see the guys smiling. All the guys have said they’re dead excited about working another season with me next year, and it wasn’t necessarily the same words they said last year so it’s nice to have that round as well as to have them happy to work with me, just as I’m happy to work with them.”

Was it tough for you knowing that Pol had resigned?
“It narked me for a while but then once I spoke with Yamaha and understood the reasons behind it, they were straight up and honest with me which is all I can ask for. I sat in the meetings with them and told them I just want the truth, so they explained polices and Japanese ways of working. They explained most important thing is to look after their riders first, and I’m not contracted to them I’m contracted with Herve (Poncheral) so its a hierarchy. 

Regardless of championship position and current circumstance the Japanese tend to go on last year’s performance, so there’s Valentino and Jorge, then there’s Pol and then there’s someone like me. So I can’t sign before Pol because that doesn’t work, and when its explained like that it makes it easier to understand. I spent two weeks in Japan and have respect for the procedure and hierarchy that they have, and sometimes although their ways seem strange, but they are logical and obviously I have to respect that.”

Suzuka must have been amazing for you, what did you gain as well as the racing?
At Suzuka, to be able to turn up and to win was as fantastic experience. To turn up like we did with the bike, it was the first time we’d been together as a team and me and Pol had never ridden a production bike professionally. So for him to get pole position, the new lap record and for us to win the race was a dream come true. With it being the Yamaha 60th anniversary, the new R1 and everything was building up to that situation and we knew we could win and just had to get it done.

I love Japan, I’ve spent quite a few times there and its always been my worst GP because we land somewhere nowhere near Tokoyo, drive through these country roads to a mountain which has been cut off the top, dug into and built a circuit there, and you stay at the circuit 5 minutes away. But having spent two weeks there I saw some sumo wresting, went to Kyoto and looked at temples, towers and shrines and got to understand how the people work there and I certainly enjoyed my two weeks.

You were very vocal about yours and Pol’s relationship when you became team-mates, has it improved since then?
“I wouldn’t say our relationship has improved since becoming team-mates but I think we have a bit more respect for each other, especially him towards me. I can safely say we were on par in 125s,but he was one step ahead of me in Moto2 and then arrived to MotoGP as the only guy in the world to have beaten Marquez hands down, and he was Moto2 world champion. 

So I think he walked in with a swagger and he dominated last year, beat me in the points in his first season and that was difficult to swallow. But I’ve turned that around this year and he appreciates what I’m doing, he knows how hard it is inside of MotoGP and he appreciates that a little bit more. I’ve always respected him and everyone who wins a Moto2 world championship deserves my respect but I think it’s got bit better from my side, he respects me a little bit more and I appreciate that.”

What are your goals for next year?
“Podiums aren’t a goal, with the circumstances that we’re in with the satellite bike and especially with the war Honda and Yamaha are in at the moment. Honda have set the bar so high and you’ve got to remember that when Cal was on the podiums Honda came that next year and gave Marc the bike that was there, so Yamaha have been trying to make up that difference with the factory riders and they’ve done an amazing job, its amazing to see how much they’ve improved but it means that satellite riders are a bit further behind at the moment than you’d thought it would be. 

But it just means I have to be very realistic, if I can keep my same performance as this year then it’s exactly what I need to do. If this was any normal year where every contract was up for grabs then I would have earned a factory ride, unfortunately I’m wrong place wrong time but if I’ve done it one season then I can do it the next.

Next season its interesting because we’re going to switch to new tyre manufacturer and new electronics, so we don’t really know what to expect and it’s a new challenge for everybody. But I’m quite easily adapting and quite good at setting up a motorcycle as well as understanding what we need. I think that Michelin is going to give me a bit of a life line to show what I can do, especially in the first quarter, then as everybody catches up it’ll all even out.”

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