Bradley Smith interview
Brit fights for a place in KTM’s satellite squad
Bradley Smith says that he’s doing everything he can to stay in MotoGP after it was confirmed he’s being replaced at the Red Bull KTM squad by Johann Zarco in 2019.
Losing out in the team-mate battle to Spaniard Pol Espargaró, who will remain with the factory team for two more years, Smith is remaining upbeat. Linked to a return to his old squad, French satellite team Tech 3, who will run KTM’s next season, Smith says he’s still keen to remain part of the KTM MotoGP project. “People don’t know how KTM work, and they haven’t really made many announcements about how the project works. But the bikes that Tech 3 are getting will be factory bikes. The idea is to have four of them on the grid with four good riders and then learn from that information. That’s the only way they’re going to improve. What’s the point in giving a satellite team last year’s bike when there’s nothing they can learn from it?
“I have great memories with Tech 3 and they’re a great bunch of people. You can see that from what is going on with Zarco, because they’ve managed that situation very well. But there are other seats available and I have to decide what’s best for me. I took this challenge because I saw KTM as a fantastic brand to be part of, but I knew that I needed to be involved for more than two years to reap the rewards. To back out now seems crazy, but we’re also in a results-driven world and sometimes it’s better to go with the best bike you can get hold of.” KTM MotoGP boss, Pit Beirer, is open about Smith’s chances of staying a part of the project. He wants the Brit to find more speed and get better results from the RC16 machine.
“It’s a tough moment for Bradley to see that two spots in the factory team are already gone,” says Beirer. “I expect him to still try his absolute best and to fight for a place in the KTM project. I don’t think he’ll take it easy or give up. We have four spaces in MotoGP, but it’ll take a strong performance from him. I don’t want to say we have a junior team with Tech 3, because we don’t want to handle them like a classic customer or satellite team. I feel like we have four factory riders and we need to decide together who to hire.”
But Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal is adamant that he wants to retain Hafizh Syahrin in 2019. Already making a strong impression since his debut and bringing huge interest from the Asian market, the Malaysian’s success means there is one less seat available to Smith.
‘What’s the point of giving a satellite team last year’s bike?’
Podium joy from San Marino with Tech 3 in 2015