Hubris is a dangerous, but necessary, affliction for any world class athlete. You need to believe that you're as good as anyone and better than most if you're to reach the top. That driving determination to prove the bastards wrong is one that is ingrained in the best. It's an unshakable belief that your will and skill can overcome anything.
Bradley Smith was never noted as a great talent on his route to the top, but he found a way to get there. Hard work, dedication and getting the most from himself was his ticket to MotoGP. Digging deeper was always the primary option for Smith coming through the ranks, and whether it was joining the Alberto Puig Academy as a 12 year old or racing a factory Aprilia in 125GP, Smith always did everything to get the most from himself.
Racing comes down to choices. The impact of decisions to make a move have reverberations as pronounced in the paddock as on the track. When Bradley Smith spoke at Mugello and said he'd retire rather than not race in MotoGP it was clear how slighted he felt by KTM moving on without him.
The courage to change your mind
Seeing no MotoGP options in his future, Smith wanted to take the opportunity to bow out on his own terms and, if necessary, walk away from the sport. Over the last two months he's reassessed his position and came to one conclusion; he still wants to prove himself. That determination to prove the doubters wrong burns as bright now as it did years ago.
"At the time I thought I had got to the end of the road in my career," said Smith about his Mugello announcement. "I thought, what more is there for me to do? I was top satellite rider. I've been a factory rider. The last couple of years haven't gone the way that I'd like, but I'm a slow burner. I'm not getting the results I should be, but I build into things. It doesn't always help me in situations.
"I felt that I'd come to the end of the road when I talked about retiring. What else is there for me to do? I was never going to get a factory Ducati, factory Yamaha or factory Suzuki based on these last couple of years. I was looking at what’s next for me, and it wasn’t just motorcycles anymore. I sat down and thought, what else takes my fancy? The truth is that a lot did, but it came back to challenging myself.
To read the rest of this article, you need to sign up to become a MotoMatters.com site supporter by taking out a subscription.
This is part of a regular series of unique insights into the world of motorcycle racing, exclusive for MotoMatters.com site supporters. The series includes interviews, background information, in-depth analysis, and opinion. Though most content on MotoMatters.com remains free to read, a select amount of uniquely interesting content will be made available solely to those who have supported the website financially by taking out a subscription.
The aim is to provide additional value for our growing band of site supporters, providing extra original and exclusive content. If you would like to read more of our exclusive content and help MotoMatters.com to grow and improve, you can join the growing band of site supporters, by taking out a subscription here.