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9 days ago
By Bradley Smith

Bradley Smith's blog: Making progress

Reflections on a productive season so far from the Red Bull KTM Factory rider

It’s never great to be injured but I do have a habit of holding onto the handlebars when I crash. I find it hard to let go because I think I can save it until the very last minute. I don’t know if I still think I’m riding a motocross bike but you'd think by now I would have learnt that I can’t. It was so frustrating in Barcelona because it was just my third crash of the year and I paid heavily for it with some pretty nasty looking injuries to my little finger. I missed the Barcelona race and the crucial test the day after. I then crashed again in a very difficult weekend in Assen. It has been the only negative thing about the first half of the season with KTM and I’ve got to learn to let go of those handlebars when I reach the point of no return.

Putting those two dodgy weekends behind me, I think they are the only negative parts of what has been a good first half of the season for me and the new KTM team. We have continued to make steady progress moving in the right direction with the bike getting better and better. We beat some very good riders on competitive machinery in Germany and we really raced into the points. Other races when we have picked up points riders have dropped out or crashed but there was only one major crash in front of us – we really earned those points. We raced the KTM into the points rather than just picking up points. It was great for the morale of the team both in the garage and everybody back in the factory. Small victories like this go a long way.

For the first time this season I felt I raced the bike rather than tested it.The bike has an area that works and I’ve tried a lot of different areas over the last few weeks but this weekend we found our sweet spot. You can race this bike one hundred per cent into the points with the package we had in Germany. It’s pushing on from there onto the next level which is now the priority.

Reflecting on the first half of the season in the early races we made some rapid progress. We are still making good progress but you don’t see it in the same way because there was no way we could continue in that same trajectory after the first four races. I’ve learnt to be patient and ride with what I have. Re-inventing the wheel does not work every time and I’ve had to learn that. Dont get me wrong, both me and crew chief Tom love trying to re-invent the wheel but sometimes you have to go back to what you really know when it’s not working.

Having three riders on the grid at the Sachsenring was a huge help. Having our test rider Mika Kallio there really pushed us on with his different riding style and fresh pair of eyes really helped me and team-mate Pol. Straight after Germany we went to Aragon for a two day test with Mika and he will also race with us in our home Austrian Grand Prix next month.

After the Aragon test I go to the factory in Austria for a day of wind tunnel testing which will be crucial because in the second half of the season we compete at some pretty high speed race tracks. Then I’m off on holiday with the family to celebrate my Dad’s 50th birthday which will be great before the second half of the season starts at Brno in the Czech Republic. A week after that it’s the big one for KTM at the Red Bull Ring in Austria and then the big one for me, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Hope to see you all there.

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