Posted on Mar 26, 2015 by George Penny
It didn’t take a bang on the door at 6.15 in the morning to make me realise just what a massive international sport MotoGP has become but it was certainly a bit of a reminder. I was in Gerona with Superbike stars Leon Camier and Chaz Davis when there was this bang on the door and it was still dark outside. Leon went down in his boxers, opened the door to be confronted by the random FIM drug testing team looking for a certain Mr Bradley Smith.
Then I remembered, but had forgotten to tell Chaz or Leon, I had been contacted and asked what would be the best time in the day I would be available for a random drug test although of course they don’t tell you the actual day. I thought around 7.00 would be OK before going out training and here they were. A quick urine test and all was OK, then it was time to get up.
It’s great the tests are taking place because nobody wants drugs in sport and especially MotoGP but you have to be so careful. Ever since I went to Thailand for Yamaha almost a couple of months ago I’ve had a chesty cold. You have to be so careful what you can take to combat this. I go down to the pharmacy with my lap top checking on all the banned substances on the back of the packets but it’s not easy. I’ve finally decided the safest way is my Mum’s remedy, lemon, honey and hot water. It may take longer but no problems when it comes to weeing in that bottle, whatever time in the morning.
The proper testing has gone really well and Yamaha have given the team a fantastic bike. It was the factory M1 Yamaha that Vale and Jorge rode at the end of last season and it shows just how much development they put in in the second half of last season. I wasn’t so clever turning up for the first test in Malaysia hardly being able to walk after a yet another MotoGP rider’s motocross crash. In many other sports that would rule you out for months but actually walking is not part of riding a MotoGP bike and so you just get on with. If I‘d broken a bone it would have been plated and sorted but I’m amazed just how long the ligaments take to heal. I’m able to hop up and down on the ankle and actually rode a motocross bike last week, don’t tell the team.
It’s really strange but I think the injury helped me and the team in the three tests. I’m usually so frenzied and frenetic with the team about everything but I had to slow down, not on the track, because of the ankle and it seemed to help us all. I would like to say that will be my new attitude throughout the season but when you are in the middle of a MotoGP practice or qualify session I will probably have a bit of a rant. The team understand because they care as much as me.
Those three tests showed just what the Championship is going to be like this year. Just one second separating the first 14 riders. It will not be that close in the race but qualifying should be extreme. I think Dorna have done a really good job trying to make the Championship as level a playing field as it can and certainly Formula One should take note. Perhaps the only teams that will find it more difficult this year are the Satellite teams such as mine especially with the testing performance of Ducati. Last year it was a battle to finish behind the factory teams and as I found in Australia take full advantage when they have problems. This year finishing in front of Ducati will be equally as tough. Those first three races, starting in Qatar on Sunday are going to be crucial before the factory teams start more development. Last year I started on the front row but crashed while chasing a podium – that must not happen this time.
I’m under no illusions – this is the biggest year of my career. I was lucky to get a one year deal with Monster Tech 3 Yamaha after the first half of last season. I have to do much better or I’m in trouble. Really all my goals lead into one. If I can finish the best satellite team rider it means I will be the best Brit in front of Cal and Scott, will beat team-mate Pol Espargaro and have a great chance of a new contract next year.