Smith Set to Hunt for Glory in Oschersleben
Posted on Aug 25, 2016 by Yamaha Factory Racing
A year ago Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider Bradley Smith rode the Factory YZF-R1 in the dark to a sensational win at the Suzuka 8 Hours race, securing the all-new supersport model's first endurance win of the 2015 season. Since then the YZF-R1 has been prominently featured at the front of the FIM Endurance World Championship, further underlined by YART's current joint second place in the championship standings with an eight-point margin and only one round to go. With a chance for Yamaha to clinch the title victory at the 8 Hours of Oschersleben this weekend, the Briton is back for more endurance racing action and shares how he is prepared for the endurance title chase alongside YART Yamaha Official EWC Team companions Broc Parkes and Marvin Fritz.
This is a very busy period for you with five races back-to-back. How do you prepare for such a busy schedule?
"Generally, this could appear as a busy schedule, with five races back-to-back but I like to think that it will keep me in the rhythm. Riding is something we don't do enough of inside of MotoGP: there is a lot of downtime, especially the last couple of months. We've had two or three weeks in between races and, all things being considered, let's see how my performance is in Misano but I am confident this is going to have a positive effect. In terms of preparing, as much as you possibly can is going to be on the recovery, sitting down as much as possible and also getting enough sleep and food and just generally taking care of all the small details."
You have ridden the Factory YZF-R1 before in Suzuka last year, riding the YZF-R1M in Silverstone during the Yamaha Racing Experience and you have also tested with YART at the Pannoniaring last week. How do the bikes compare?
"I've ridden three different bikes now, the Suzuka YZF-R1, the YZF-R1M at Silverstone and the YART bike at the Pannoniaring and to be honest it feels very much like the Suzuka bike from last year. I know that Factory Yamaha have been working closely with YART this season after their great results so the bikes feel very similar. The most remarkable feature is the bike's agility. It doesn't feel like a usual 1000cc, it feels a lot easier to ride, especially in a change of direction and around a track like Pannoniaring. When comparing the R1 to the YZR-M1, the characteristics chassis-wise are very similar, but if we could have the same power of the YZR-M1 on the YZF-R1 that would be unbeatable!"
The level of the field in Endurance is completely different compared to MotoGP. As you now know what to expect, how do you plan to cope with the traffic? Do you have a strategy in mind?
"In terms of traffic, I'm used to that. In Suzuka we had 80 riders on track and I think there are 35 riders subscribed to Oschersleben. I know the track is smaller, but fingers crossed that the traffic will be a little bit less. It's part of the racing and part of the situation you just have to be alert and on your toes all the time, that's what makes the endurance races so hard: you not only have to ride at your maximum, but you also navigate through the traffic and make no mistakes. I think that's why endurance racing is so mentally challenging."
Yamaha has won 2/3 races so far this season. You and Broc are friends and the YART team has shown a fast pace throughout the season. What are your expectations for the race weekend?
"My expectations for the race weekend are obviously that it's not going to be easy. All these guys are used to riding their machine in the endurance environment. Oschersleben is going to be a smaller track than I'm used to and it's going to be close racing from what I understand, 1'26 lap times means that the pace is going to be close between everybody so the final tenths are going to be important. Oschersleben is also unfamiliar to me, while it's familiar to other guys, therefore it's also going to be tough. A lot of studying of the track and a lot of practice laps on Wednesday in free practice to try to learn as much as possible."
Have you been training with Broc in Andorra? Do you have to adjust your training programme to cater for the additional stamina needed for endurance racing?
"I obviously know Broc very well from practically being my neighbour in Andorra. We haven't had a chance to see each other so much this year with my busy schedule, but I know he is training hard over there to be ready for this final race to make sure we have as much opportunity to fight for the championship. I've decided this a little bit too late to do anything with training. When we agreed with Mandy we were only two and a half weeks away from the race, so there are not a lot of things that I can do. I believe the general fitness for MotoGP has to be high anyway, to be able to race for 42 minutes like we do, and I expect the stints in endurance racing to be about an hour, so I think my stamina should take me forward. The important thing will be the recovery because we have to do it three or four times during the day rather than just once. It's going to be interesting and it's going to be tough, but I'm excited for the challenge and very thankful once again to Monster Yamaha Tech3 and Yamaha, plus Mandy, Broc and Marvin for believing in me and giving me a chance of helping them in this final race."