Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was able to achieve an equal-best season result in P10 at the Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, a result that matched last year’s performance on a weekend that he and KTM signalled as an important one:
“We saw Phillip Island as a really important weekend for KTM and for me. The bike seemed to work quite well here last year, so it was always one to try to focus on,” confirmed Smith, with both the Briton and teammate Pol Espargaro finishing inside the top ten and only 16 seconds off the win at Phillip Island in 2017.
Smith continued: “The team did a fantastic job. The main aim of all the weekend was to setup the bike as best as I could to look after the rear tyre as much as possible. That caused us to sacrifice our qualifying a little bit because I was still trying to work on that, but I think it paid off today.”
P16 in qualifying meant Smith had to get one of his customary lethal launches as the lights went out on Sunday. And that’s exactly what he managed to do: “I had a great first lap, from 16th to eighth and tried to hold my position for as long as possible,” explained the number 38 rider, who couldn’t quite hold off both Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) in the latter stages:
“Unfortunately, towards the end of the race, I just didn’t have anything left for Morbidelli or Aleix, but, once again, top KTM and outworking and outsmarting my teammate, which is important at the moment.”
So what can we expect from Smith at Sepang in what will be his penultimate race for the Austrian factory? “Sepang is a difficult track. Last year we struggled a bit there; it was wet. It’s never been a really strong race for me, but I feel that we’re coming from good confidence, I have a good feeling with the bike, the setting seems to be working well, so I’m optimistic to at least keep the current level and score some points.”