Bradley Smith in­ter­view

Brit fights for a place in KTM’s satel­lite squad

MCN - - CONTENTS - By Si­mon Pat­ter­son MO­TOGP RE­PORTER

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

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