In the ADD short-term memory world that we live in now, the focus is centered on what have you done lately and immediate results are imperative.
That makes what already was a big challenge – being a MotoGP rookie – an even bigger challenge. Throw in the silly season talk around the paddock that puts your position on a team under a magnifying glass and welcome to Bradley Smith’s world.
Coming off of his best result in the big class at the previous MotoGP round at Catalunya where he finished sixth, the young Brit comes to Assen looking to build on his progress.
He is also on the mend from his practice crash at Mugello where he had injured his scaphoid and his pinky and underwent surgery the Monday after Catalunya to repair his injuries and get back to racing.
Smith was at today’s pre-race press conference and answered questions about his recent surgery, his thoughts on Assen, the challenge to adjust to the track on the big bike, his future in MotoGP, and the secret to the British invasion in the World Championship series.
Following your best-ever MotoGP result only after six races, sixth in Catalunya, you had a busy time with the surgeon I think…
Yeah, I went and visited Dr. Mir on the Monday after the last GP. Had a skin graft on my little finger from the accident at Mugello and also decided the best option was to screw the scaphoid. It was causing me more and more problems as the days went on. Surgery is not the most ideal thing to do during a season, but I’m looking at the big picture and I needed to sort this problem now and not have reoccurring issues in the later part of this year.
We’ve just spoken to Marc [Marquez] and Stefan [Bradl], both of whom have come up also through Moto2 like yourself. It’s not easy is it? You’ve had six races and an excellent ride at Catalunya, but it’s not easy.
No. MotoGP is a very tough challenge. It’s been something that was tougher than I expected it to be, but it’s also been an enjoyable first six races. I’ve had some ups and downs. Had some learning experiences as well. But definitely at Barcelona I started to put things together and started to put together a better performance and hopefully we can continue that on to the next few races.
And Assen? A couple of podiums here?
Yeah, it’s been a long time since those though. So all things considered, Assen’s a track that I like. I think everyone kind of feels the same here. There’s quite good grip from the race track. Some nice flowing corners. My one favorite one in particular is the right hand banker. It feels like back in my motocross days where you can get in the berm on the outside, so it makes me feel at home. It’s not too far away from the UK. Normal weather like the UK. So we’ll see how it all goes.
And the weather, as you say, it really does appear it’s going to be a real mixed weekend isn’t it?
Yeah, well I’d been caught out by the weather here in the past. Back in 2008 I was leading the race here and I was the first over on the backside to get to the wet. So I know what it’s like here. But you do what you have to do. Everyone’s in the same boat and we just try and be as clever as we can to put the tires on that we need at the right moment. You can’t really preempt anything. I mean the weather forecast you can keep an eye on it, but what will be, will be and you just choose to put a rain visor on or a dry visor.
Where do you think it’s going to be the hardest for you to adapt to a MotoGP bike coming from a Moto2 bike?
Obviously, riding the Yamaha, it’s just learning the key to get the optimum from the bike. It’s not a style that I’m used to so I’m still learning how to use it in the right way. Definitely the change of directions is the toughest point. Also knowing where to open the throttle and close the throttle to make it go into the corner in the right way. Just finding your reference points and putting the bike on the point of track that it needs to be on for the best lap time.
We know you already have a contract for next year, but there’s a lot of talking about you about your future. Can you explain what is your situation? Your position?
Right, so it’s true that I have a contract. That’s true that there’s a lot of talking. What else can I say? As far as I’m aware WMG, my management company, are happy with everything that’s going on. Yamaha people have believed in me this year. I’m hoping for my results to improve. There’s always going to be a difficult situation with the amount of riders that are in our team and the amount of riders that are supposed to be going into our team.
Right now I have a contract. Right now Yamaha haven’t said anything to me. They’re happy with my performance. Obviously, were all trying to improve that. Trying to improve my results and I am looking to be in the same team for 2014.
British riders have been without success since the days of Barry Sheene, but now more and more British riders storm the field… You and [Cal] Crutchlow, we see [Scott] Redding in Moto2, we see riders like Danny Kent coming through in Moto3. Now we as Dutch riders only have Jasper Iwema, so we would like to know what the British riders have done or what the nation has done to bring British motorcycling back to its former level?
I think in terms of British motorcycling the biggest impact on our success is the introduction of the MotoGP Academy, which obviously then turned into the Red Bull Academy, which then turned into Red Bull Rookies. I think it gave an opportunity and a window for some English riders to show their talent and then through that obviously being nurtured in the right way by the right people into the right teams on competitive machinery. I think that’s the be all and end all. There’s no special formula, just being given the opportunity taking the opportunity and that’s really all I can recommend.
You also play a part in that opportunity because it was you who has the academy also, the Bradley Smith Racing Steps Foundation?
Yeah, that was obviously something I was a part of when we very first set it up. The racing steps foundation is still racing in the Spanish Championship and still trying to bring riders through. Obviously I do feel somewhat part of the reason John McPhee is here this year racing in the racing team Germany in Moto3. Obviously that was a part of our project and something that I am quite proud of.