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GP Week : Issue 200
MOTOGP >>> FEATUrE 32 GPWEEK.com // 32 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: GPWeeK: Bradley, on the satellite YZR-M1, you are at a slight disadvantage to the motorcycles of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. How do you make up for it? BRADLEY SMITH: Obviously riding your motorcycle is always going to be a compromise. It all depends on where your strengths are and obviously you’re trying to play the bike to your strengths, but you also try to improve your weaknesses as much as possible. We had a great bike on the brakes at Qatar. I felt really good and really confident, but because of that we lost a little bit coming off of the corner – especially coming off the last corner at Qatar because I was losing three to four bike lengths. It’s a shame because it teaches me that I need to follow the top guys in practice. Marquez followed me in Free Practice one and Valentino followed me in Warm Up, so they all knew what their strengths and weaknesses were, so they then work on what they are not good at. Whereas me, I didn’t learn that so I didn’t know where I was strong or where I was weak until the race. Unfortunately in the race it was too late. That’s one thing that I need to learn from that experience. Where has your 2014 speed come from? Fundamentally, I have to put it down to the bike. Yamaha basically gave me Jorge Lorenzo’s bike at the Valencia test last year. That’s where I was second fastest. A lot of people forget about that. From the first moment I jumped on this new motorcycle I was as fast as Yamaha and I was 0.20 behind Mark Marquez. Straightaway I felt confident and happy. Then during the preseason test I decided that I needed to look at the big picture – I needed to look into how my racing was going to be and work on my weaknesses. We didn’t really go for the lap times so a lot of people kind of wrote me off again. They were like, “This Bradley kid, he did the fastest time in Valencia, but doesn’t really seem to be doing anything now.” As soon as we turned up for race weekend at Qatar, I felt good. I knew I was happy with the bike and that we needed to bring the A Game and that’s finally what we did. Obviously I hope this continues on into the season. Fundamentally, I have to put the speed down to the bike, experience and the continual work off the track. Just what kind of work do you do off the track? I’ve been looking a lot into where I’m weak and where I’ve gone wrong. I knew I had to go away and put a lot more training in this winter. Riding these bikes at this type of level certainly isn’t easy. Other guys, their bodies naturally adapted over the seven years that they’ve been in the championship. I’ve only been in it 12 months. I had to work a little bit harder and speed up that stuff. I felt like that was maybe the missing link last year. I didn’t feel that I was strong enough and fit enough so I went away and worked with a new trainer and came back stronger this year. You come across as being very honest with yourself! Can, perhaps, you psych yourself out by being so honest? I understand what you’re saying, but I like to make the situation very clear to myself. I don’t hide from the truth. By me being honest and saying I wasn’t strong enough, if I didn’t do anything about it then I’d be psyching myself out because I’d know I’m still weak. But the fact of it was that I looked myself in the mirror and I wasn’t happy with what I was doing so I went away and did something about it and I improved in that area. I suppose I do self-criticise a lot and I put myself down, but it’s how I make myself better and how I continually improve. One thing that does bug me is when I do then settle and say, “Okay, that’s enough” but then end up being beaten by some guy. That bugs me even more. As long as I don’t settle and as long as I continue to push my technicians and continue to push my tyre guys, I’m good. Just what do you now have to do run with the Big Four? It takes a lot of hard work. It takes belief in the bike and the package. Then, finally once you ride there, then that takes experience. I need more race time. You can practice all you