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Cal Crutchlow, Scott Red­ding anda Bradley Smith all face ca­reer-defin­ing sea­sons. Crutchlow is run­ning out of time. At 30 years old he needs to, at least, fin­ish top satel­lite rider in 2016. But Smith will be push­ing hard, the on-song Brit knows if he is to land a top fac­tory ride at the end of the year, he must build and im­prove on his sixth po­si­tion in the 2015 ti­tle chase while Red­ding has to de­liver on the satel­lite Du­cati if he is to stay in Mo­togp. All three say it how they see it in our no-holds

bar­ried in­ter­views.

Mon­ster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Bradley Smith has echoed Valentino Rossi’s con­cerns that the M1 ma­chine is far from per­fect ahead of the open­ing tests of the 2016 sea­son.

Speak­ing last week at the fac­tory team’s Barcelona launch, Rossi ad­mit­ted that the ti­tle bat­tle be­tween him and Jorge Lorenzo had taken Yamaha’s eye off the ball in terms of de­vel­op­ment – some­thing that Smith agrees with en­tirely.

Speak­ing to MCN, he said: “Yamaha had to re­ally work on win­ning the cham­pi­onship last year, and they had to fo­cus on both rid­ers. That stops de­vel­op­ment; it means they weren’t test­ing like Honda were.”

The 25-year-old has also re­jected the no­tion that new con­trol elec­tron­ics and Miche­lin tyres will see a re­turn to the past, with satel­lite bikes once again able to con­tend with the fac­tory ma­chines.

“I hon­estly be­lieve once de­vel­op­ment starts we’ll be in a weaker po­si­tion than we’ve ever been. With the Miche­lins, ev­ery­one is still only at 75% and that means that I see next year as more neg­a­tive for satel­lite rid­ers once de­vel­op­ment gets go­ing.

“If some­one throws a curve ball and goes half-a-sec­ond faster than the rest, the fac­to­ries are go­ing to have to chase, and there’ll be zero up­grades to the satel­lite teams.”

That makes the open­ing few races of the year cru­cially im­por­tant for the Ox­ford­shire racer. And Smith is acutely aware that he needs to make his mark be­fore the fac­to­ries be­gin to de­but new parts and the satel­lite teams get left be­hind.

“I can’t say what po­si­tion I want to fin­ish the year in, but I want to be top satel­lite again. I want to put my name in and amongst ev­ery­one else for the con­tracts. I’ll be 26 at the end of the year, and fac­tory rides don’t come around at 28. I need to sign and se­cure some­thing solid, and the only way to do that is by get­ting good re­sults.

“When we come back from the first three fly­away races to Jerez that’s when I ex­pect to see a gap start­ing to form. That’s al­ways where the man­u­fac­tur­ers bring some­thing new. Those early races are a mas­sive op­por­tu­nity to make a dif­fer­ence. It’s not go­ing to be easy to de­fend top Brit sta­tus ei­ther, but I’m con­fi­dent that I can do it again.”

‘I feel like I’m in the right place with the Du­cati al­ready... I

en­joy rid­ing it’ ‘I hon­estly be­lieve that once de­vel­op­ment starts we’ll be in a weaker po­si­tion than ever’


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