Subscriber Interview: Bradley Smith On His Future - Caught Between Racing And Testing

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.

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Bradley’s reasoning and thirst for excellence (including passion) resonate outside professional motorcycle racing. Keep these first person interviews coming especially those with riders, crew, coaches and managers who are not “the usual suspects” at the top of the food chain.

"Having been one of the first British riders helped throughout his career by Dorna, he faced plenty of pressure to perform."

What's this mean exactly?    How does Dorna help particular riders?

Dorna nudges teams to hire riders from underrepresented countries. At one point that was Brits. Since they pay each team a ton of dough, the nudge isn't ignored. Our Malaysian addition likely had a nudge. It isn't formal/contractual so much. Imagine mob boss "suggestion," then soften it up (no broken fingers, just lack of future favors). Some of it is "if you take the rider from (America might be a next one), this person I am having lunch with tomorrow that has an interest in it might want to talk about sponsorship money with you" stuff. Someone correct me if I am wrong.

Bradley is now looking a fit for testing. The poor guy, for a while, wasn't getting the KTM up to a pace where his experience was relevant for development. On a race weekend w pressure!

Good to see him speeding up. Sincerely. I support him. Yet, he has not gotten that last bit of oomph, and Pol was just a good bit faster before he was an over eager bowling ball. Not easy being Orange so far. Very long odds for Smith to return to a MotoGP seat, unless there are odd circumstances needing a replacement within his future team.

Brad, you should commentate on the TV too! Wonderfully articulate. One of the nicest guys in the paddock. Test ride for KTM, get a couple wild cards.