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British rider Bradley Smith has spoken to motogp.com in depth about his rollercoaster 2008 season and his expectations for next year.
Moving to Polaris World and onto Aprilia machinery at the beginning of the 2008 season, Bradley Smith went on the have an incident-packed year, with pole positions, podiums, race leads, crashes and injuries all adding to his growing Grand Prix experience.
There were highs and lows for the teenager from England and with his 2008 team being disbanded at the end of the year an exciting move to the highly successful Bancaja Aspar team beckons for 2009.
Smith has a long winter of training and preparation ahead of him for what will be an important year in his career and the former Red Bull MotoGP Academy and Honda rider was in good form when he spoke to motogp.com from his home in Oxfordshire.
Q. `How do you summarise your 2008 World Championship experiences overall?´
A. `I am quite happy with the way this season has gone. To finish sixth in the championship, to get three pole positions and four podiums, well if you had told me that at the beginning of the year I would have been quite pleased. Obviously, not winning a race has been quite disappointing due to the fact that I was often in contention and was never able to make it pay off, so that´s a kind of negative thing that I look back on. But generally, quite a good season.´
Q. `Given the pole positions, race leads and competitive machinery you had, do you feel disappointed that things didn´t go better?´
A. `At the beginning of the year there were times when I was looking at myself and asking, `why aren´t you converting these pole positions?´ `Why aren´t you winning these races?´ In the end I was looking around at the other guys and thinking, well, look at how much experience they´ve got. This is my first year of running at the front, also my first year with the Aprilia. It is completely different doing one fast lap in qualifying to the situation in a race.´
`There is a lot of racecraft that goes on and the guys put themselves in the best positions at the end of the race. There were a couple of times, in Assen and Sachsenring, when I put myself in the perfect position, I was leading, and then it started raining. Sometimes it didn´t matter whatever I tried, I just wasn´t able to put it together. It will come with experience though and next year I will be with the Aspar team, but also it will come with a bit of luck.´
Q. `So you feel you have gained from those situations?´
A. `You start to understand that these guys don´t mess around. If you give them a little bit of space they will put you off the track as well. At every level and at every point the riders are just the same. You might think they will try to be clever and just sit in behind each other, but in the end everyone wants to fight for those podium positions and fight for victories. It´s not the fact that I wasn´t aggressive enough it´s just not having the experience in the last two laps when to make the move and when not to. For example in Mugello with two laps to go I was leading the race and then got swamped down the main straight and went from first to fifth going into the last lap. You can´t get back from fifth to first, not in one lap anyway. That is just experience, I have learned from those things and I can move on for next season.´
Q. `Surely you must be quite excited about the prospects of moving to such a good team for the 2009 season?´
A. `Aspar have a good team mentality and they want to win championships. That should bring out the best in you. This is going to be my fourth season in Grand Prix and I really need to make that step to start winning races and battling for that championship. I am quite looking forward to the winter tests, because last year I was getting accustomed to the bike and getting used to everything, whereas this year we can do more specific testing to try and improve the bike and improve race pace. I think that can help with the season´s structure as we don´t have any testing during the racing season so we need to get it done and to fight from the word go.´
Q. `Do you feel under pressure at the moment, as 2009 could be a make or break year for you?´
A. `The grand plan is to finish off in 125cc next year. It is the season to do the best I can do and have a good send-off. I don´t know what position I will finish in but I will be fighting for the World Championship. The title is not easy to come by, it is not always the fastest rider, it is the best all-round rider. You need to have a bit of luck. Then I want to move up to the 250cc class in 2010, then we can go on the 600cc four-stroke bikes when they decide to do that as well. So I am looking forward to changing up a category at the end of next year, but I just want to go out in the best possible form that I can.´
Q. `You picked up a few injuries this year, do you need any surgery over the winter?´
A. `I am lucky that I have been able to heal completely, I haven´t got any complications with anything and I think that is just down to being young. So I can concentrate on preparing for next season and I don´t have to worry about any injuries. It looks like next year, with the races being so close together and with the calendar being compacted by a month as it starts with Qatar in April, it will be even more important to stay injury-free. You need to be consistent and always be up there fighting because you can lose a lot of points if you are not.´
9 years ago
9 years ago
9 years ago