Moto Ain recruits Isaac Viñales to replace recovering Bradley Smith

Posted on May 21, 2022 by George Penny

To re-accommodate motorcycle endurance, the circuit has undergone major development work. The hilly route is long, ultra-fast and has several legendary bends such as the Raidillon, the Double Gauche, and the Chicane. After almost 20 years of absence, most endurance riders discovered it, and this is the case with Moto Ain riders.

And if Bradley Smith has indeed resumed the bike since the accident at the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, he does not yet have the green light from the doctors to resume competition. Pierre Chapuis has therefore recruited the Superbike and moto2 rider, Isaac Viñales (Spain), to support Claudio Corti and Corentin Perolari.

The team has also received the support of a new partner, the tire distribution giant First Stop. So after off-season tests with Michelin, then the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Dunlop, Moto Ain will be racing at Spa with Pirellis. The bike had to be tuned and reprogrammed with this new parameter. Given these major changes, after 2 days of testing, the times are satisfactory. Moto Ain leads as usual just behind the factory teams, among the best private teams.

Pierre Chapuis – Director of the Moto Ain team
“I am really happy to discover the Spa circuit. This circuit is one of the most beautiful in Europe. The place is steeped in history. "with lots of fast sequences. The F1 drivers appreciate it a lot and this should also be the case for the motorcycle drivers. The 24-hour race format also brings credibility for an endurance championship. All of this is very positive. On the side of our team, Isaac Viñales replaces Bradley who is still recovering. It is always a very risky bet to take riders from speed, MotoGP, Moto2 or Superbike. They are often very fast, but they have used to driving at the limit all the time. In endurance racing, in a 24-hour race, you know you always have to have some margin and keep a cool head. But I think these speed drivers bring novelty, prestige and credit in the EWC paddock. ent, with Rolfo, De Puniet, Baz in 2021, and Corti and Perolari in 2022, I was not too wrong. Isaac adapted very well to our bike and our structure. It is at the same time as Claudio and Corentin. We have made several modifications since Le Mans. The biggest change comes from the tires. As the manufacturers no longer help the private teams, we all have to buy the tyres. We now have to deal with economic laws to find the right performance/price compromise. Our new partner, First stop, helps us in this regard. In the box, the mechanics therefore had to readapt and reprogram the bike with the new telemetric data. After 2 days of testing, the results are satisfactory. All is not perfect, but things are moving in the right direction. The race will hold a lot of twists and turns: the route is little known by motorcycle riders; like at Le Mans, it can rain here and we don't yet know the grip of the track in the rain; no one has really driven here at night. So we prepare with what we already know. I would like to thank the organizers for putting us on the poster. We didn't ask for anything, but it's always gratifying and reassuring to know that race promoters are able to highlight the entire endurance ecosystem, and not just the factory teams.

Bradley Smith:
"The crash at Le Mans was severe. When I see the images, I have been really lucky. The impact was massive and the consequences could have been way worse. Fortunately, I am already back on feet, and I have ridden again, in Spain. I feel better day after day. But the small factures I have, must be 100% healed. The full recovery will take time. Surely several months. So I followed from my couch the lap times of the Yamaha #96 at Spa, especially the time of my teammate and friend Claudio Corti. This track seems to be very fast and fun to ride. So for sure, in June, I will follow on TV or on live-timing, the race of the team."

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