Posted on Apr 23, 2015 by George Penny
I like to think after three good races this is a new Bradley Smith. I certainly enjoy riding the new M1 Yamaha a lot more than this time last year. I’ve come away from the opening three grands prix smiling rather than scratching my head trying to find something else. I think we have extracted the best we can but there is still more to come from the complete package and especially from me. It’s been exciting with some amazing racing in the Championship. To see Valentino up front, Marc not having it all his own way is great news for the sport while in our own Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team the fact that I’ve beaten team-mate Pol Espargaro three out of three and was not so far behind Jorge Lorenzo is great news for me.
In the best Brit battle I could not ride with Cal in Argentina but he could not stay with me in Austin. He’s adapted well to the Honda and he had far too much pace in Argentina for me to be happy with. We’ve lost some points to him but to be honest I think I’m closer than I expected at this time and we arrive in Europe at tracks I’ve won on and really like.
The highlight of the year and honestly of my MotoGP career was the race in Austin where I finished sixth. I took a big risk at the start after studying previous starts on video by racing up the outside from the fourth row up the big hill to turn one. I’d already planned it on Saturday and it was a risk worth taking. For 12 laps I was able to run with Valentino and the two Ducatis and I learned so much. We can talk about the positive affect that podium finish at Phillip Island in Australia last year but at the end of the day my performance in Austin was right up there. There is a lot to be happy about. We are still learning all the time but we are improving.
It was a case of me having to change my approach and I’ve spoken in depth with the team about it. It was not an easy thing for me who just cares so much about my job but it was something I needed to do. Self-criticism is hard to take but facts are facts and I had to understand that people respond to a normal tone of voice much better than F words and shouting which I have been known to do. When you are calmer and raise your voice people certainly take more notice than before. There is a time and a place for it and the Japanese Yamaha engineers certainly respond better to this calmer approach. This weekend was a prime example because I was struggling for grip all weekend but we found a solution between the warm-up and the race. Guy my crew chief was the most stressed I‘d seen him for a long time but we got the job sorted as a team and he was the happiest I’d seen him at the end of the race for a very long time. Going into Qualifying One I only had one lap to nail it and one tyre to do it on. I had Karel Abraham following me and I thought as I crossed the start line if you can stay with me on this lap you deserve to go into Qualifying two. I pulled out a great lap and it was a case of not panicking. To have found that calmness and self-belief is crucial and there is a great vibe in the team with everybody appreciating everybody’s efforts. The team are not here to make my life hard and I’m not here to make theirs hard. At the end of the day this is a job where we need to enjoy ourselves and do the very best we can.
I’ve dumped two weeks of washing on my mum’s kitchen floor and I’ve got to admit that I’m tired after three races in different continents in a month. It’s great to just get home, sleep in your own bed and re-charge the batteries before the start of the European season at Jerez a week on Sunday. It will be nice to get back to a regular European schedule.