When Bradley Smith speaks, he always makes it worth listening. His thoughtful, analytical approach to racing means you will always learn something, always be surprised by something he says. At Aragon, we spoke to the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider for the best part of 40 minutes, and dissected a lot of areas of racing.
In this, the final part of the interview, Bradley Smith explains how he finds motivation through what is one of the most difficult parts of his career, developing the KTM RC16 MotoGP bike, and being far from competitive. He describes the contrarian attitude, the wanting to prove people wrong, which drives racers to achieve what they do.
Smith also explains just what a rider is looking for from his bike. The Englishman gets into "the feeling", what he wants from his bike, and what that translates to out on the track. He talks about searching for, and not finding, that feeling from the KTM, and the pleasure at getting close to that feeling again, and posting competitive times.
Finally, Smith talks about what motivated him to take a test role, and why he wasn't ready to retire. What his objective is at Aprilia, and how he finds satisfaction from not just his own success, but in helping others. He also talks about wanting to make a comeback to racing, and how he hopes to follow in the footsteps of Toni Elias, who returned to MotoGP, before looking forward to the future, after his racing days are over.
Q: Three or four seconds used to be second or third, and now four seconds you could end up outside of the top ten.
Bradley Smith: Yes. That's what we're talking about. I think that's what's fun about GP racing at the moment.
Q: Is it still fun, though? These two years for you have been really tough?
BS: It is, because I enjoy the process. That was the nice thing to hear about Valentino in a couple of interviews that he's done. It's the process that you enjoy. It's trying to find the very best with what you have and deliver that on Sunday. It's trying to accept everyone's doubting and lack of confidence and using that motivation of proving everyone's doubts were unfounded and proving everybody wrong.
Imagine Jorge [Lorenzo], when he stood on that podium inside of Mugello. It is bittersweet, because you wanted to do that for the team. You wanted to do that for the individuals. You wanted to feel that feeling. You just wanted them to believe. It's like, I told you I could do this. I knew I could do this.
And it's only the rider that knows. There might be a couple of people like moms or dads or some super fans that have that blind faith. But I tell you now, there was no one that thought that Jorge was going to do that in Mugello. But we saw glimmers of it because he led races. But I didn't think that they were able to turn around his so-called physical problem in that amount of time. But they proved me wrong and he did it.
But there was no one that believed that. There was not one bit that someone said "Jorge is going to win there." Or for example, going into the season, that Jorge is going to have won three races. He's going to win another three by the end of the year. I've seen the pace that he had here [in Aragon]. I've seen the pace that he left Aragon test with. There ain't no stopping him at the moment. The only one that's stopping him is him. [Lorenzo was injured in a first-lap crash which he blamed on Marc Márquez - DE]
Q: How much of that is the bike and how much is between his ears?
BS: It's a combination. He didn't forget how to ride. Like I said, you're never looking for a setting. You're looking for a feeling. That is the golden rule in all of this sport. You're never looking for a setting. You're looking for a feeling.
Q: Just confidence? Explain what you mean by "feeling"? Is the feeling, if I go into this corner at this lean angle, I know what's going to happen?
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