Interview: I’ve got to earn a good bike for 2016

Posted on Nov 16, 2014 by George Penny

Bradley Smith ended the final official MotoGP test of 2014 with the fifth fastest combined lap time, before stating the importance of being the top satellite rider in the upcoming season. 

Fresh from finishing eighth overall in the 2014 championship at Valencia, Smith is under no illusions that he is riding to find a competitive machine in 2016.

“The fact that I've only got a one-year contract is super important,” he said on Wednesday afternoon. “I've got to earn myself a good bike for 2016. With the rules and regulation changes going on like they are you really need to be in Tech3.

"That is the only seat up for grabs from what I can expect. It's huge and you need to have that kind of experience and knowledge when you go into a new era like that. It helps a lot because I'll have had years on that bike and in that team. It's going to be another one where I need to do a first half of the season like I did the second half of this one. 

"Fingers crossed that's enough to earn something for the following year.” 

With Ducati's renaissance continuing and Suzuki and Aprilia joining the series, Smith recognises the competition will be tougher in 2015, although he feels well equipped to deal with these demands. 

“I think straight away, as with the situation last year, as soon as we arrive with a similar product as the factory team we can run similar lap times. As always the factory team is going to develop them and move along. The nice thing is I did a similar thing twelve months ago and we started the season strong. 

"If the gaps do appear really all I have to do is look across to my team-mate, who is going to be on the same bike. We are a satellite team. Our job is to be the top satellite rider or satellite bike. We can't control what the factories do or develop. For sure it's another step forward and even if Ducati bring something better next year I believe we're a step ahead of them.

"I certainly won't be disappointed if I'm top satellite rider, beating Pol on a weekly basis and I lose my contract. I'll have done everything that I needed to do. I can't have anyone doing any better than I am on the same product so the target is always there.” 

Smith was testing the 2015 Tech3 machine, complete with a new riding position, electronic settings and Brembo callipers and believes he needs time to feel one hundred percent comfortable.

“Basically with this new bike it's just understanding where I need to be,” said Smith on Wednesday afternoon. “I had quite a long tank spacer. I had one last year and continued but we wanted to see whether we could run the short one and I can. The good thing is I can use both rather than last year I could only use one.

"I still prefer the one I have from before. With this new bike it is quite different in terms of feeling and feedback. For me the lap times I was able to do I was there or thereabouts. I think you need to take today with a pinch of salt because it depends when you put the [soft] tyre on. I think you can see from both mine and Pol's performances that as soon as we got the new product we were a lot closer to those top six or top four.

"It's a more neutral bike. It doesn't move around quite as much so it's more relaxed going into corners, it's not moving around all over the place. I think we've improved some rear grip as well, certainly when the tyres start to go off it certainly helps.”

Smith posted the sixth fastest time on Wednesday – a 1m 31.365s lap – which wasn't enough to improve on his effort from Monday. Still, the 23-year old was pleased with the updated machinery and believes he can be closer to the factory machines with it at his disposal.

“I would imagine this is going to be my bike for 2015. It seems that there are a few different upgrades that could potentially come. I've got no time frame for this, that and the other.

"I think Herve said something about a [full] seamless box ahead of Sepang from first to sixth [gears]," he added, referring to his present gearbox only being seamless from second gear onwards (not first to second).

"But you don't really use first gear in Sepang so you're not really going to be able to test it a whole bunch there. We'll see what else comes but if it's anything like last year what I rode here twelve months ago is what I rode here on Sunday. I would imagine that's going to be the same.”

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