Bradley Smith kicked off his 2009 125GP world title bid in Valencia today, the British rider getting his first chance to work with the highly regarded Aspar Aprilia squad.
Smith, who joined Jorge Martinez’s outfit following the demise of his Polaris World Aprilia squad in the final stages of the 2008 campaign, completed his first day on a 2008 spec Aprilia machine.
Smith scored four podium finishes in 2008 to finish in a respectable sixth in the final standings, but a first win still eluded him in his third world championship campaign.
The Oxfordshire rider though will start 2009 as one of the big pre-season favourites to challenge for the title having replaced former world 125 champion Gabor Talmacsi in the Aspar squad.
Smith was the lone British rider in action today, with British GP winner Scott Redding and Danny Webb not due out on track until the winter testing bans in late January.
Also on track was the new Maxtra 125GP bike that is being spearheaded by British racing legend John Surtees.
Austrian Michael Ranseder made his debut on the bike today, which features an engine built by renowned two-stroke tuner Jan Witteveen and a chassis designed and built by British specialists Harris Performance.
The Maxtra project, the first major Chinese assault in the MotoGP arena, will debut in 2009 with British rider Matt Hoyle hotly-tipped to land the second ride.