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Bradley Smith gave it all he had on Sunday to take 12th position, the Brit determined to come out of his performance slump.
It’s fair to say that recent rounds of the MotoGP™ World Championship have been difficult for Britain’s Bradley Smith. In 2015 he was regularly finishing as the top satellite rider and battling inside the top six or seven but recent rounds have seen him have to work exceedingly hard to get inside the lower end of the top ten. For Sunday’s Gran Premio Red Bull de España Smith started in 14th, his worst ever result in Qualifying since joining the blue ribbon class. Not once in 2016 has Smith started inside the top ten, evidence of his difficulties having been a top six regular in 2015. The race would offer some hope as Smith picked his way up to 12th but ending almost 40 seconds behind the race winner was not ideal. Smith may have his future secure, but he’s doing everything he can to improve his results now and return to fighting for Top Independent Team rider glory.
Bradley Smith: “Without a doubt it was a tough weekend for me but at least I got something out of it in terms of points, and I am determined to have a more successful time at the next round in France. In the race I had an ok start off the line but the Aprilias and Ducatis were really strong during the opening laps. Unfortunately I also lost some positions in the first lap due to contact with another rider so I ended up behind Hernandez and Bautista. I felt like it cost me some time following them, but with the lack of grip I experienced on the rear tyre, I could not push any harder at the beginning and already after ten laps I knew that I was in trouble. Therefore, I just tried to be as smooth as possible and reach the finish flag. The good thing is that we managed to improve my feeling with the front over the weekend and I felt more comfortable when compared to the previous races, so tomorrow in the test we will focus on trying to find a solution to the rear. However, saying that is very easy and this may not be the case in reality. Yet, we will work hard and take full advantage of tomorrow so that we can be strong in Le Mans like last year."
Monday offered Smith and his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team a much-needed day of testing. Since Michelin changed the tyres, Smith just hadn’t been able to find a setting that worked as well as during pre-season testing. The entire day, where Smith completed 71 laps, was spent testing setup options and assessing new Michelin front tyres and has the 25 year old feeling much better about his situation. Round five takes place in Le Mans, France, the home race for Tech 3 and Smith is keen to give them a good result before they go their separate ways.
“Even though the results from today’s test are not incredible, we’ve made some good progress but I don’t think this will dramatically turn around my season. We’ve been struggling a little so far this year, and I’ve never really found something that I’m completely comfortable with. A lot of what we did today was going over the things that we adjusted in the first track appearances in 2016 so that we could reconfirm our knowledge. The adjustments that we have made aren’t negative and we can see that we have gone in the right direction. This morning we retested everything and made sure that we have the best package in our garage. Then, this afternoon we tried a couple of front tyres for Michelin. I just evaluated these as best as I could but we used the normal tyres for our setup work as these new tyres are for the future. After that, we continued to focus on the bike, by establishing a base setting plus modifying the rear shock and altering my riding position too. It’s been a busy day and there were no miracles, but then again, we weren’t really expecting any. The team and I just wanted to keep our heads down, do our best and gain about 0.3 seconds a lap. In the end, we actually beat our objective as we were about 0.5 faster. So I am pleased with the outcome and the team did a good job so let’s see what we can do at their home GP."
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