The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo of Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaró will face an emotional last round of the 2016 MotoGP championship this weekend in Valencia when the pair say ‘au revoir’ to their team after six and three years with the French squad respectively.
The pair will move together to KTM on Tuesday for their first outing as factory riders for the Austrian firm – but Smith says that doesn’t mean he’ll be any less committed to this weekend’s race.
"After a long time together, this week will be my final outing with Tech3. This season is my sixth year in this team and it goes without saying that it will be hard to say ‘Au Revoir’ to the crew on Sunday afternoon. The guys who I have worked with have always done a great job, which gives me full motivation for Valencia where I really hope to end on a high.
“The back-to-back events went well and I scored some valuable points despite my recovering knee, therefore in Spain, I will fight to be as close as I can to the leading satellite position. 2016 has not gone exactly to plan and it’s a pity to be finishing the year much further back from where I wanted to be in the rankings. However, we never gave up and after achieving sixth in the Grand Prix 12 months ago, I am confident of a positive conclusion.
“I won the 125cc race in 2010 at Valencia, the year before I joined Tech3, and the venue has been good to me so I am very confident about scoring a solid result for my team."
His sentiments were echoed by teammate Espargaró, who adds yet another emotional layer to the weekend with the benefit of having it as his fourth home round of the season.
"Valencia is always important because it is where we end the season and it is also another home race. However, this year is going to be a bit more special, and I am going to compete at this event with the grandstands full of fans! It will be my last track appearance with Yamaha and the Monster Tech3 team after three really incredible years, with some great and some not so good moments, but I have learnt a lot in this period with a big group of professionals that have been like a family to me.
“I'm really looking forward to enjoying this weekend where I will try to complete this adventure with a highly satisfying result. I like the track and I am happy about how I have performed there in the past, such as in 2015, which was a difficult year but I was still able to end up in the top 5.
“Obviously, it's going to be difficult to repeat this, because the factory bikes such as Ducati and Suzuki, are much more competitive, and we are struggling a bit in a few areas. We will see how I feel with the Michelin tyres and if the weather does not interfere, then I want to have the best possible conclusion, but whatever happens, I will give my best as always."