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GP Week : Issue 200
MOTOGP >>> FEATUrE In Pol Espargaro (44), Smith has a competitive team-mate 33 GPWEEK.com // 33 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: want. You can test. You can run fast laps in practice. But that extra pressure, that extra adrenaline, the extra riders around you on the track – you know a five-man battle – that’s what I need more experience with. That’s one thing I learned a lot at Qatar and what I hope to learn again here at Austin. I’ll learn that throughout the season. You need to be riding tooth and nail with these guys to learn that next level. Compared to some of the more flamboyant riders around here, you’re quiet and reserved ... It’s just the way I am. I can’t change who I am. I give my opinion, always. If I’m asked my opinion, I give it. I give it in a more detailed manner. I try to give my opinions based on fact. I try not to speak from how I think. You can’t argue with anything if you speak fact. That’s one thing that I like about journalists and about people, I like when the speak fact. I don’t mind being low profile. I like it. I like to keep myself to myself. I don’t really like to have too many people around. Me and my dad travel the world together. We enjoy it like that. Sometimes I would like to be a bit more out there and maybe for people to like me a little bit more, but I’d much rather that they say that I’m a fast motorcycle racer rather than a likeable guy. I’m here to apply myself to this job. I have the best job in the world. I love racing motorcycles. If I can’t apply myself for the four days I’m at a race and give my absolute everything, then I might as well stay at home. If you come to a race meeting to joke around and play and pull wheelies on scooters and mess around with your buddies, I think you’ve got the job all wrong. Does that stuff happen? Yeah, it does. More in the lower categories than the older ones. Obviously you need to do these types of things and learn from these types of things, but you don’t see the best guys messing around. You don’t see them smile much, but that’s how much ‘in the zone’ they really are. You seem to be more methodical, maybe more patient, with making progress with you riding and racing. In other words, you warm into things. True? I’m a diesel! I’m a diesel engine! Same thing when I change. I take a while to roll into it. If I’m out for a two-hour bicycle ride, the second hour is going to be better than the first. It’s just the way I am. I like to understand everything before I go and do something. My dad always told me that when I went out on these tryout days that there was no point to it because It always took longer to see the best of Bradley Smith than in one day. It always took a while for me to build up. With me, the second day will better, as will the third day and the fourth day. That’s just how I am. I try to not do that because it bugs me to be a diesel engine and taking a while to warm up to things, but it’s gotten me to where I am so I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Tell us about Tech 3. Is it now your team? “Tech 3 is a great atmosphere. I try to separate myself from the team a little bit, just so nothing is too friendly. I try and keep it a very working-oriented environment. I don’t even have the phone numbers of any of my mechanics. I’ll go out and buy them dinner and I’ll look after them when we’re here together, but when we go away I think it’s better to separate and not speak together too much. The good thing about this is that they feel that they can shout at me, and I feel that I can shout at them. Sometimes, I see people shout at one another, and if they’ve been good friends, they might keep it inside. I have enough of a good working relationship with my guys now that I can shout at them and five minutes later it’s forgotten about. That’s just the way it is. They know I’m passionate and I know that they’re passionate. The dynamic of the team has changed a little bit. Cal is not around so the spotlight comes back on both Pol and I together. Maybe me a little bit more on me as being the more experienced rider. Pol is a different character. Obviously he’s come off a very great season last year as Moto2 champion. It’s difficult coming straight into MotoGP without having the experience. Race weekends are very different – you have two 45 minute sessions in a day and that’s a lot different than many hours on track to do a lap time. It’s very different. There is extra focus, extra PR, extra adrenalin, extra nerves. He’s a great guy and I think we get on fine. We’ve been rivals for a very long time and that carries on into this season. But we have a lot of respect with one another and a good rivalry that will help us perform rather than be negative. Cal Crutchlow walked into the Tech 3 box today and it was as if a long, lost family member had returned home. You have to understand that when Cal came into the team – and a lot of the time that Cal was with the team – we actually lived together. I’ve stayed around the house with Lucy, I’ve travelled in their motorhome, we’ve been to the beach together. We’ve been training so many hours side-by-side on bicycles. There is a strong relationship between us and that obviously created a very friendly atmosphere during my first season as a rookie, but maybe not the best atmosphere to get the best from me. I actually like the fact that Pol is a rival. He keeps me on my toes, he keeps me focused, he keep me sharp and he keeps me pushing for ward. Maybe last year I had the right environment. I enjoyed my season and I warmed into MotoGP. I had a lot of good people around me, including Cal as a teammate. This year it’s now time for me to step up and maybe not enjoy it as much and have more pressure on me from the other side of the garage. Your impression of the COTA circuit? It’s a very technical track and anyone that wins here really knows what they’re doing. It’s a very physical track, as well. If you imagine those switchbacks in turns 3, 4, 5 and 6, you’re doing easily between 100 and 120 miles an hour and trying to get a 160-kilo machine to go left to right and right to left and left to right. Doing all that at those types of speeds isn’t easy. Physically it takes it out of you here. Also here, you go from 210 mile an hour down to 40 miles an hour. That type of G force on the brakes takes a lot out of you. It’s a very technical track.