SMITH: ‘NEW KTM WILL BE BUILT AROUND ME’
Bradley tells MCN why his new deal with KTM is the perfect match for everyone involved
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.”
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’