Redding, Smith bow out with valiant Valencia results

British pairing move onto pastures new in 2019 as both claim their best results of the season in treacherous conditions

The Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana saw MotoGP™ say goodbye to two British riders as Scott Redding (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) head off for new challenges in 2019.

Bradley Smith, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana

For Redding, it’s a full-time farewell - for now - to the Grand Prix paddock as he heads to British shores to take on a brand-new chapter in his career. The Gloucestershire born rider has spent ten years in Grand Prix racing and held the record – until Sunday morning in Valencia – for being the youngest ever Grand Prix winner. 2013 saw Redding come close to claiming the Moto2™ title, before he spent five years in the premier class, notching up two podium finishes.

It’s been a difficult year with the RS-GP but on Sunday, the 25-year-old was able to record his best result of the season in P11 to end his year on a positive note: “Honestly the first race was quite scary for me. Starting at the back of the grid with all the rain coming up - I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t even see the front of my own bike, so for me the race should have stopped a lot earlier,” began the number 45 rider.

“There was a lot of aquaplaning, a lot of standing water, you saw a lot of crashes – there was a lot of signs that it was too late. But it was what it was, we had to do the best we could do, the same as every other rider there. But it’s a big gamble, one minute everything is ok and then the next minute, it’s not ok. So we had to try and survive the first part of the race. My main target was to stay on the bike, if you feel comfortable you can push and if you don’t, just try to stay on the bike. I got some rhythm, a lot of guys crashed so I was like ‘ok ok’.

“But then they stopped it and decided to start it again and I decided to put in the soft front tyre, thinking we could do a bit better. And the front felt good but I struggled with the rear the whole weekend and it was the same now, I just had no rear grip and I struggled a lot compared to the other guys.” Now though, an exciting new venture awaits as Redding gets to jump on the eagerly anticipated Ducati V4 Superbike.

“It’s a new venture for me. I’m looking forward to it, happy for the change. I’ve done 10 years in the World Championship, I think five years in MotoGP and it’s been hard, it’s been really hard. This year also has been tough, so it’s nice to have a change. The main thing for me is to get a bike that is very competitive and let me show my talent. If it doesn’t work I can accept it. I’m just looking forward to the new things I can learn; the tyres, brakes, we have no electronics, the circuits, I never raced in Britain.”

Scott Redding, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana

And what about Smith? Well, it’s not a complete goodbye to the Oxfordshire born rider as he takes up a testing role with Aprilia, while also competing in the inaugural FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup that kicks off in 2019. However, unfortunately, it’ll be the first time in six years that we won’t be seeing the Englishman on a full-time ride in MotoGP™. But, like Redding, Smith was able to end his two years at KTM by achieving his best result for the team – a P8 finish in the sodden Valencia weather.

“Today has been a very special day, first and foremost with my best position with KTM. I was really lucky to be able to restart the race after the mistake in the first run while running in sixth. It was crazy to think that I got from 22nd to sixth but I was really trying to push hard. And for the re-run, yeah it was just a case of being a bit more nervous after my crash and I couldn’t get it done.

“I’m very grateful for these two years,” continues the number 38 rider. “Sometimes through the hardest moments, is when you learn your best lessons. So I’ll take everything from these two years, and it’s definitely made me a better rider and a stronger person so yeah I can’t say anything negative, except maybe the end results. Everything else, the whole experience, the atmosphere, the people, the friends, you know it’s all been great. I’ve loved these two years and a big thanks to KTM.”

He may be moving away from KTM and a full-time ride, but that doesn’t mean Smith will be any less busy this winter: “I’m going to be busy in the next for days because I have the Aprilia test, I have the MotoE test with One Racing in Jerez and then again with Aprilia in Jerez. I’m going to be busy, it’s not the end of the season just yet. Really it’s just to get used to the new bike, after riding with KTM for the last two years, to go to another manufacturer, it takes time to get the feeling.

“Fingers crossed we don’t have weather like we had today and we can make progress and yeah, just get the initial feelings with the Aprilia. Once I have the feelings, I can maybe go to Jerez and work a little bit more. The plan for these two days is to get used to everybody, get used to my new team, new environment, new colours, and learn as much as possible.”

You can follow Smith’s progress with his new - and Redding’s old - team live on at the Official Valencia Test that begins on Tuesday 20th November. For Redding, a winter of preparing for a completely new type of racing season begins.   

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