Interview: Bradley Smith, Part 3 - On Proving The Doubters Wrong, On 'The Feeling', And On Coming Back To MotoGP

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.

Make sure you read part 1 and part 2 of this interview, though you don't necessarily have to read them before reading this final part.

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.

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2018 San Juan Villicum World Superbike Race Two Result: Still With The Reverse Grid?

Twenty one laps to go, then it's a two week wait until the last race of the season. Argentina's Circuito San Juan Villicum gave World SUperbike two races on a fresh track, surrounded by a region rebuilt after the 1944 earthquake. 

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2018 San Juan Villicum World Supersport Race Result: Rain Cleaned Track Overnight

The first World Supersport race at the Circuito San Juan Villicum was nineteen laps of the four thousand two hundred and seventy six metre track and could help define who would be crowned champion. Rain overnight cleaned the track and left before it became a problem.

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Discovering The San Juan Villicum WorldSBK Track With Eugene Laverty

The Circuit San Juan Villicum has surprised everyone in the WorldSBK paddock this weekend. With the Andes Mountain range offering one of the most picturesque backgrounds in all of racing, this brand new facility has instantly added a unique circuit to the championship.

The 4.2km circuit has received positive feedback from the riders and teams, and Milwaukee Aprilia's Eugene Laverty offered us his perspective of the track.

“I think that they've done a really nice job with this track and I've been quite impressed with it,” said the Irishman. “It took a day to rubber the track in, but in FP4 it has really started to offer more grip and we could start to push on. Over the start finish line we're able to hold fourth over the start finish straight, it's a bit too slow an exit from the final corner with low RPM to need fifth gear for us, but we're back to first for turn one.

“There's a steep descent into this corner, like at Portimao, and it's tricky going into that corner, but coming around Turn 2 it opens up and we're into second and then through the kink we'll hold second gear even though some riders are able to get into third for it. It's really nice through the faster section as you take third and fourth gear through the sweeping corners, and it's similar to Misano into Turn 6 and 7.”

Passing spot

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2018 San Juan Villicum World Superbike Race One Result: Records, Records, Records

An anti-clockwise track, starting with a hill with a crest after the finish line, a couple of swooping corners, a kilometre run to a passing corner, some tight one-line-only corners, flip-flop, flip-flop and a couple of tight lefts to get back to the hill. Race one of World Superbike at Circuito San Juan Villicum would be twenty one laps with clouds looking on from the shadows of the Andes.

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2018 San Juan Villicum World Supersport Superpole Result: Constant Changes At The Top

World Supersport's Superpole started with the first session where thirteen riders would fight for two promotional spots, with Hannes Soomer and Hector Barberas the quickest of the slower riders in timed qualifying.

Hector Barbera opened the session quickest, but was knocked off the top spot by Hannes Soomer, but Loris Cresson and Christian Stange were on quick lapses the quicker riders pitted in. Stange sat behind Cresson down the fast kilometre-long back straight and used the extra speed to take the top spot before the mid-session break. 

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2018 San Juan Villicum World Superbike Superpole Result: Lap Record Set

Superpole for World Superbike at a new track means whoever is on pole position sets the lap record. The altitude saps a little power from each bike, limiting their ability to set speed records on the kilometre-long back straight. Michael van der Mark and Jake Gagne start Superpole one as favourites to progress to the join the ten fastest men for Superpole two.

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2018 San Juan Villicum World Superbike FP3 Result: Rea Ends Day Quickest

Jonathan Rea is the first and only rider in under 1'40 at the San Juan Villicum circuit, heading to Saturday on top, ahead of Marco Melandri and the surprising and consistent Toprak Razgatloiglu. With everyone improving upon their results from the previous sessions, the last session determined the places for superpole, and Leandro Mercado qualified directly into Superpole two in front of his home crowd at the first ever World Superbike race at this track.

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Perspectives On A Brand New Circuit - The Rider, The Crew Chief, And The Tire Company

A new circuit presents new challenges for everyone in the paddock. Whether its riders learning the layout, engineers understanding the compromises required of the track, or the challenges facing a tire manufacturer, a new circuit has so many variables.

This weekend in Argentina, the WorldSBK paddock will face that task. For a rider, the build up is spent trying to learn the track with videos or track maps. For an engineer, they'll use the information to hand, length of straights and corner design, to try to come up with a baseline setting for the weekend.

“Usually it's quite easy to learn a new track,” explained Pata Yamaha's Alex Lowes. “We ride at so many tracks that after a handful of laps you typically know the layout and understand where you need to be. I've always been quite good at learning new tracks; if I think back to 2014 and my rookie season in WorldSBK I was up to speed quite quickly at circuits that I hadn't ridden at before.

“There's a lot of ways that you can try to speed up the process and the easiest is to find some on-board laps from circuits or old race footage. Even from the cameras around the circuit you learn a lot about the lines and where you have to be. Obviously, for this weekend in Argentina we don't have a lot of information to use because it's brand new, but we have enough information to know what to expect.”

Grinding gears

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2018 San Juan Villicum World Supersport FP2 Result: Mahias And Cluzel On Top

Lucas Mahias heads to Saturday in provisional pole position, with Jules Cluzel and Federico Caricasulo well within two tenths. The rest of the field are over half a second off Mahias's quickest time with only two non-Yamaha machines in the top ten. Hannes Soomer and Hector Barbera in the two favourite spots to progress to Superpole two tomorrow. 

Results:

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