British teenager Bradley Smith has claimed a brilliant front row start for tomorrow’s Catalunya 125 GP in Spain.
The Repsol Honda rider finished this afternoon’s decisive final qualifying session with the fourth best time to record his second front row start in the last three races.
Smith’s best lap of 1.50.806 saw him edge out world title contender Lukas Pesek for the last spot on the front row in a session run in searing heat as temperatures hit 32 degrees.
With just over two minutes of the session remaining, Smith jumped to the top of the timesheets with his best lap, which knocked 1.164s off his best time from yesterday’s opening qualifying session.
But he told MCN he wasn’t expecting to claim a superb maiden pole position. Gabor Talmacsi claimed pole with a best of 1.50.012 to beat Smith by 0.794s but the Oxfordshire rider said: “I looked up on saw myself pole position and knew I wasn’t going to stay there because the others were coming fast. I’m a little bit surprised to be on front row because the times have been really fast during the weekend. I was happy to do a 50.8 in the hot weather and I’m sure in the cooler weather maybe for the race tomorrow I’ll be slightly better. That is a good time but compared to the 50 flat of the Aprilias I’ve still got a long way to go. I’ve just got to be careful in the first few laps not to lose them like in Mugello.”
Smith said he was shattered after the session with conditions the hottest he’s ever had to contend with. He was injured for last year’s Malaysian GP in Sepang, which is arguably the race with the most extreme conditions.
“I was knackered, “he said. That’s the first time I’ve ridden in hot weather. Qatar is hot and England hasn’t had this weather all year so it’s a bit of a shock to the system.
"It’s like fire coming down on you. Hopefully I’ve got a good race setting and got the pace to run at the front. I’m sure if I can be there and not make too many mistakes that I can be there towards the end. They are going to be fast and it’s not going to be easy.”
Smith's previous front row start came in last month's French GP in Le Mans, where he went onto become the youngest British rider in history to claim a GP podium when he finished third.