The Pressure Of Contracts: Bradley Smith Explains How A New Tech 3 Deal Helped Him Ride Better

One belief common among motorcycle racing fans is that racers will ride harder while they are negotiating a new contract, only to slack off once the contract is in the bag. Ask a rider about this, and they deny it fervently, saying they have to ride just as hard after a new contract is signed as they did before. That their contract situation affects their performance is beyond question, though it is not as simple as it appears.

Bradley Smith is a case in point. Since the start of the season, the Englishman has known he has been riding for his place next year, with Yamaha and Tech 3 taking a seriously look at riders in both Moto2 and Moto3 to replace him. The pressure was starting to get to Smith, the Tech 3 man crashing rather too frequently, with the low point being the race at the Sachsenring. Smith crashed four times that weekend, twice on Friday, once on Saturday, and again in the race. It was a very tough weekend indeed.

So when Smith signed a new deal with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team ahead of the race at Brno, there was a palpable sense of relief. With this future secure for another year, he could get concentrate on racing again with a clear mind, and without the pressure of his results being judged every race. Over the course of the weekend at Brno, we asked Smith how he felt after his contract extension, and what effect he felt it had had on his results. His answers were revealing, and provide an insight into the pressure which all MotoGP riders must function under.

On Thursday, before he had turned a wheel, Smith clearly expressed his relief at signing the new deal. "[I'm] more relieved than anything else. My first initial response was difficult to sum up. I suppose I didn't realize how much it was, not affecting me, let's say, but playing on your mind until everything was cleared and sewn up. So yes, very pleased to be riding the bike again for 2015," Smith told us.

Did he think the uncertainty over his contract had had an impact on his performance? Smith preferred to look at it another way. "I think how I manage to decipher it when I look at it, is it was affecting decision making," Smith said. "So when I was having warning signs, or when there were certain decisions I needed to take on the bike... As a rider, you get a warning and you should listen to it, because it's the bike telling you something." Smith was not heeding those warnings, and trying to force the bike to do what he wanted. "Because of the situation I was in, basically I was ignoring everything, and seeing how far I could take it until, well until it threw me off in the end. That's what it finally came down to. Rather than the pressure, or this that and the other, it was just almost a desperation as such. I think that's really the reason behind some of the issues."

Once Smith hit the track, it was clear that his riding was improved now the pressure was off. The Tech 3 rider was fast on Saturday, just missing out on a front row start. The race did not go as well as hoped, the Englishman suffering the same tire problems which slowed up Marc Marquez. On Saturday, after qualifying in fourth, just 0.004 behind Andrea Iannone, Smith spoke again of the improvement made having signed a new contract.

He was disappointed to have missed out on a front row start, Smith said, because he felt he could have been closer. "Coming into the last corner, I looked down at the time difference, and saw I was up three quarters of a second," Smith said. "I didn't choke, but there was four thousandths in that last chicane, I know it. I'll take that, though." He had made a better decision to switch from the soft front to the medium front for his final run. "A good call from my point of view, I changed from the soft front tire to the medium one for the second run. I had already done the lap time with the soft one." Switching front tires in pit lane cost time, and meant he would only get one flying lap on the medium front. "That was a bit of a gamble, and it lost me time, and it meant I couldn't get a second lap. But I thought with that tire, with one lap, I can nail it. Obviously I managed to, so I'm pleased with that."

Was the fact that he managed to get so close to a front row at Brno related to his new contract? "The disappointing thing for me is that I rode today exactly as I rode at Sachsenring. But today everything stuck and everything worked." Less pressure certainly helped with that. "For sure, I'm riding more relaxed on the bike, I haven't got that pressure of, I have to do it. I know how to, and that's the main thing."

One belief common among motorcycle racing fans is that racers will ride harder while they are negotiating a new contract, only to slack off once the contract is in the bag. Ask a rider about this, and they deny it fervently, saying they have to ride just as hard after a new contract is signed as they did before. That their contract situation affects their performance is beyond question, though it is not as simple as it appears.Bradley Smith is a case in point. Since the start of the season, the Englishman has known he has been riding for his place next year, with Yamaha and Tech 3 taking a seriously look at riders in both Moto2 and Moto3 to replace him. The pressure was starting to get to Smith, the Tech 3 man crashing rather too frequently, with the low point being the race at the Sachsenring. Smith crashed four times that weekend, twice on Friday, once on Saturday, and again in the race. It was a very tough weekend indeed.So when Smith signed a new deal with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team ahead of the race at Brno, there was a palpable sense of relief. With this future secure for another year, he could get concentrate on racing again with a clear mind, and without the pressure of his results being judged every race. Over the course of the weekend at Brno, we asked Smith how he felt after his contract extension, and what effect he felt it had had on his results. His answers were revealing, and provide an insight into the pressure which all MotoGP riders must function under.

Comments

Bradley is a class act.

He has matured well in MGP, and I like the way he communicates too - level-headed and straightforward. You certainly get the sense that he doesn't play games.
I wish him well for the rest of this season, and I hope he gets what he needs from Yamaha and Tech 3 to do the job he wants to do.
As Marquez has shown, there can be 3 places in a bit of set-up and tyre performance. Bradley has shown there are the same margins in his head. The potential is there.

Total votes: 28

Bradley's Head

Mr Smith is a thinking rider. That has advantages, but also major disadvantages; it's easy to overthink things and get yourself in a mental mess before a wheel has turned. He's very fast on his day, but can end up in the gravel where, say, a Bautista or Hernandez might not have even had that distracting thought in the first place. I hope his new contract gets him into a positive and fruitful headspace where he can regularly aim for and hit the top of the non-factory positions.

But frankly, while I wish him all the best in his riding career, I think he'll eventually turn into a legendary and successful team manager. If Hervé is looking for a successor a few years down the line...

Total votes: 21

Or,

I see him as a common tater.

Total votes: 10

Mental effects

I'm pretty sure all MotoGP riders have high levels of mental toughness, including Bradley Smith. Apparently, it doesn't prevent them from being affected, positively or negatively, by their mental state at a given time. The cases are many: the enthusiasm and self-confidence of Marquez, Rossi's revival, Lorenzo's troubles, Crutchlow's debacle... Given the fact that they are not average guys, I'm surprised how much a rider's state of mind can impact performance.

Total votes: 11

Stress = slow

For every Smith there is also a Tony Elias who did just the opposite as I remember. When I raced I was hot and cold following a bunch of internal factors. Overconfidence could bite me. Trying too hard could make everything seem fast but be slow on the lap timer. There were plain old lazy days. The fast days were centered relaxed ones in which me and the bike were prepped well and there was fun to be had in the midst of an exciting challenge, opposite of a 'do or die' dealio. Stress = slow.

Total votes: 15

Bad tires

When Lorenzo complained he had gotten a faulty tire a few races back, people were saying he was making up excuses. Now that Marquez and Smith got theirs, it's getting more difficult to just call them moaners. Would Bridgestone's quality control be getting too relaxed now that they are on their way out? or is it because events like that had spared the front runners thus far?

Total votes: 9

Controversy over the future Team Gresini?

Crash.net claims that there is a fund crunch in team Gresini. That they say is the reason why Fausto Gresini may not run a satellite spec Honda since that is too expensive. Scott Redding is quoted as having said that he is not interested in riding a production Honda for one more year. He also claimed that he was looking elsewhere just in case this deal does not materialise. Crash.net also says that Gresini could become the front for the returning Aprilia team in 2015. Again Redding is quoted as having said that Gresini is indeed talking to another manufacturer. How much of this is true? David Sir, are you in a position to throw some light on this? Or is it just crash.net inventing a story to keep its readers happy? Will appreciate an answer Sir Emmett. Thanks in advance.

Total votes: 8

Unlikely

Avsat (you are in India, yes? Excellent english!) I don't see anything related to what you mention anywhere. Have a link by chance?

Gresini is one of THE most well established teams in the paddock and I suspect this is false and illuminates why it is called 'silly season.' There is delay in Redding's contract being inked, leaving room for speculation as well as manuevering by both parties. Fair to say that MANY teams hold discussions with MANY riders, manufacturers and component providers this time of year. Little surprise that Fausto and Aprilia would end up chatting, and that someone would also end up conjecturing re their plans.

For 2015 Gresini has a coveted factory Honda AND a now coveted soon-to-be well powered 2nd yr Open Honda all buttoned up. I have never once ever heard anything about financial problems at Gresini. It is LCR that is struggling w the potential of paying satellite rates for a open bike to add a second Honda on a fluctuating budget.

If Gresini is looking at a future as the factory Aprilia team it is 1) an exciting possibility for both the team and Aprilia, 2) potentially a coup for Aprilia to gain the expertise in the garage and admin offices in place rather than attempt to piece theirs together, 3) a financial boon and potential professional goal for Fausto and Co, 4) a crap deal for Redding who would clearly prefer Beautista's bike, 5) a big gamble for Fausto in terms of results but perhaps not so much in other terms on paper, and 6) just sounding super unlikely.

Aprilia can just buy grid slots elsewhere, and Fausto likes his independence and competitive bikes.

Total votes: 9

(Plz delete dbl post, sorry!)

Avsat (you are in India, yes? Excellent english!) I don't see anything related to what you mention anywhere. Have a link by chance?

Gresini is one of THE most well established teams in the paddock and I suspect this is false and illuminates why it is called 'silly season.' There is delay in Redding's contract being inked, leaving room for speculation as well as manuevering by both parties. Fair to say that MANY teams hold discussions with MANY riders, manufacturers and component providers this time of year. Little surprise that Fausto and Aprilia would end up chatting, and that someone would also end up conjecturing re their plans.

For 2015 Gresini has a coveted factory Honda AND a now coveted soon-to-be well powered 2nd yr Open Honda all buttoned up. I have never once ever heard anything about financial problems at Gresini. It is LCR that is struggling w the potential of paying satellite rates for a open bike to add a second Honda on a fluctuating budget.

If Gresini is looking at a future as the factory Aprilia team it is 1) an exciting possibility for both the team and Aprilia, 2) potentially a coup for Aprilia to gain the expertise in the garage and admin offices in place rather than attempt to piece theirs together, 3) a financial boon and potential professional goal for Fausto and Co, 4) a crap deal for Redding who would clearly prefer Beautista's bike, 5) a big gamble for Fausto in terms of results but perhaps not so much in other terms on paper, and 6) just sounding super unlikely.

Aprilia can just buy grid slots elsewhere, and Fausto likes his independence and competitive bikes.

Total votes: 7

Gresini seems to have money trouble

According to the always well-informed German SpeedWeek.com (use Google Translate or similar service)
http://www.speedweek.com/motogp/news/61873/Scott-Redding-Findet-Teamchef... the problem lies with their main sponsor Go&Fun. The energy drink manufacturer will apparently cancel their sponsorship.

One possible option for Scott is to replace Iannone at Pramac Ducati. I'm not sure that would be wise, given the red monster's antics on the race track. A more viable option is for Scott to return into the Marc VDS fold. They have the money to afford the factory Honda Gresini can no longer pay for, and they've been hedging plans to enter MotoGP.

Total votes: 8

Here is the link that you wanted Motoshrink

Hi Motoshrink, because of the fact that I use my name as it is in gmail it is seen as avsatishchandra. Actually it is A V Satish Chandra. Feel free to call me Satish, that is how all friends address me. Thank you for your compliments about my English and the sarcasm about my being Indian. Most educated Indians are fairly proficient in English.

You are right I should have provided the link to the story from which I was quoting. Though someone else has provided a link to speedweek, I will still provide you with where I got the story from. Here it is and lay your doubt to rest. http://www.crash.net/motogp/news/207814/1/redding-waiting-on-gresini-for.... Hope you do not think I am a fraud. Thanks. And also please no lectures about how to post and the etiquette of posting and how I should learn all those things by going through some great posts and all that. Really, I can do without that.

P.S: We Indians are alright. There are many like me who preferred to stay back in India because it is a nice enough of place and also because it is not nice to be treated as a second rate or third rate citizen in another country.

Total votes: 4

Waste of a good bike

Herve Poncheral would only have signed Bradly because of the sponsorship his team is likely to get from having the best performing (highest points scoring) British rider in the paddock. I'm sure he'd have preferred Scott Redding but he was looking like he had a new Gresini deal in the bag and Crutchlow is now an unknown quantity. My guess is he will be better than Bradley on the LCR Honda but given his performances on both the Yamaha at the end of last year and the Ducati this year there is no guarantee. Bradly will still get the odd 6th or 7th place and they have Pol as the number one rider.

Realistically Bradley will be lucky if he ever gets a podium regardless of the bike he is on, he was never good enough to be in Moto GP in the first place let alone on a Tech 3 bike. Herve got carried away after Brads best performance in Moto 2 where he had to start from last after going the wrong way up pit lane in qualifying. I think he worked his way up to third or 4th, he did nothing for the remainder of his Moto 2 career which spanned another 18 months. In his whole time in Moto 2 he only scored 3 podiums and never even won a race.

As for riding maturely his performances this year have been slow and laughable as he has the record in the class for throwing it down the road. When he leaves Moto GP I don't know where he could go. I think he would struggle in World Supersport or British Superbikes to be honest, unless he drops to Superstock level he hasn't got a World championship in him.

Total votes: 0

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