SMITH: ‘NEW KTM WILL BE BUILT AROUND ME’

Bradley tells MCN why his new deal with KTM is the per­fect match for ev­ery­one in­volved

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - MO­TOGP RE­PORTER si­mon.pat­ter­son@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

Bradley Smith says that the de­ci­sion to leave the Mon­ster Yamaha team and join KTM’S new fac­tory Mo­togp squad for 2017 was an easy one.

Re­garded as not only a fast, but also a tech­ni­cally gifted rider, Smith has al­ways been quite clear in his be­lief that his tal­ents have to an ex­tent been wasted in the Tech 3 Yamaha team, where their satel­lite sta­tus gives him very lit­tle op­por­tu­nity to de­velop the M1 ma­chine.

By join­ing the fac­tory KTM squad where the devel­op­ment of their new Mo­togp bike will fall firmly on his shoul­ders, the Ox­ford­shire racer is rel­ish­ing the op­por­tu­nity to show what he is ca­pa­ble of.

“It’s a project I be­lieve is built for me. It’s a brand new bike, that needs build­ing on and tak­ing for­ward, and that’s what caught my eye. I don’t nor­mally take the easy route, and ev­ery­one in­volved in the project knows how hard it’s go­ing to be – but I know there are a lot of tal­ented guys in KTM who are highly mo­ti­vated and pre­pared to do a good job.

“It’s tak­ing their bike from scratch, as such, and be­ing a part of a project where I can speak di­rectly to the en­gi­neers in­stead of just rid­ing what I’m given. I be­lieve there’s a lot of ideas I can give as a rider, and I’m ex­cited to give them.”

Hav­ing wit­nessed Suzuki’s im­pres­sive re­turn to the premier class, Smith be­lieves that the KTM project, which is be­lieved to be on a sim­i­lar bud­get to Suzuki is not go­ing to be mak­ing up the num­bers.

KTM’S rac­ing pedi­gree is not lost on Smith. As a for­mer mo­tocross rider he’s acutely aware of just how suc­cess­ful the or­ange brand is re­gard­less of the cho­sen dis­ci­pline.

“To see what KTM have done in MXGP, in en­duro, in AMA Su­per­cross they’ve turned it into a com­pletely dom­i­nant bike there. When they’re in­volved in some­thing, they get in­volved com­pletely. Look at what they’ve done in Moto3 – it’s not easy to take on the Big H. They have some clever peo­ple inside the project, and it’s only get­ting stronger. It’s not a gam­ble for me – it’s a huge op­por­tu­nity.

“When you look at what Suzuki have done with a very sim­i­lar project in a short space of time. When you look at what Du­cati have man­aged, and when you look at what KTM have done in Moto3, it shows that the Ja­panese man­u­fac­tur­ers aren’t dom­i­nat­ing the way they used to.”

Yet even with a clear route to devel­op­ment and a be­lief that the team will be com­pet­i­tive in Mo­togp (and a sneaky tour of the firm’s Aus­trian work­shops last month prior to sign­ing), there was an­other ma­jor fac­tor in Smith’s de­ci­sion to switch.

While the de­ci­sion to part with Yamaha, the team that took him to Mo­togp in 2013 has sur­prised many, the re­la­tion­ship had be­come strained in re­cent years. In 2015 he was kept hang­ing on for a con­tract de­spite his un­der-per­form­ing team-mate Pol Es­par­garo be­ing of­fered a deal di­rect with the fac­tory ear­lier in the year.

Smith, who has praised his cur­rent Tech 3 team boss for help­ing guide his ca­reer so far, con­cluded: “It’s a huge hon­our to have peo­ple of that cal­i­bre want me. For them to be ex­cited be­cause I’m com­ing to their project is huge. It gives me a lot of con­fi­dence as a rider.”

BRADLEY SMITH

the GP bike and to where I am now. We don’t plan on stop­ping un­til we get to our very best, and it’s nice to know that they’re be­hind me in do­ing the very best job this sea­son.

“Herve’s dream for me was al­ways to bring me up and show the world what I could do, then pass me on. That’s what he is as a team man­ager, and it’s what he’s done with the likes of Dovi, Spies and with Cal. He un­der­stands the situation, and he’s chuffed to bits for me that I’ve found a fac­tory ride.”

‘Herve is chuffed to bits for me that

I’ve found a fac­tory ride’

Now Smith can fo­cus on the rac­ing Bradley’s served his time on a satel­lite bike, but what can he do on the new KTM?

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