Bradley Smith ended an impressive rookie MotoGP campaign in Valencia with yet another top 10 finish that secured him 10th in the overall world championship rankings.
The Oxfordshire rider has ended 2013 with a strong sequence of results that followed a breakthrough test session in Misano back in September.
Misano was one of the toughest races of his premier class career and he qualified 13th and finished in a lowly 11th.
The 22-year-old though got the chance to evaluate a new riding position in a post race test at Misano and it proved the catalyst for an impressive run of form in the final five races.
His seventh in yesterday’s 30-lap encounter was his fifth top 10 in a row and since the Misano tweaks he has not finished any lower than eighth.
When asked by MCN how satisfied he has been with a strong finish to the season, he said: “I don’t think I realise how important Misano was. I finished 11th there and it was a turning point in the year because I used it as a test because I was riding around slowly and couldn’t do anything about it. From that test we have made big in-roads in the final part of the season and been a lot more consistent. In Silverstone and Misano we hit something bad but then we were able to understand where we needed to improve for the rest of the season.”
Smith kept Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate Cal Crutchlow at bay in sixth for the opening six laps of the race and he said: “I knew it was going to be hard with the hard tyre because I didn’t find a setting all weekend. We knew the setting that we wanted to run and would work with the hard tyre, I didn’t like. I had to run the hard and do the best I could and while I had the grip at the beginning I could stay in front. Cal passed me and made a super gap straightaway and I couldn’t follow that pace and Stefan (Bradl) was quicker than me too. “
Smith, who will partner new Moto2 world champion Pol Espargaro in the French-based Tech 3 squad, got another one of his trademark fast launches off the line and briefly thought about throwing his YZR-M1 up the inside of Marc Marquez at the first corner.
With too much risk involved in making the pass stick under Marquez, who went onto claim a historic world title.
Asked by MCN if he was tempted to dart up the inside of Marquez, he said: “I bottled out of it. When I wanted to let go of the brake he completely committed to the inside of Valentino (Rossi) and I had two options. I could brake like I did or let go and punt both of them out because it would have ended up in a three-man pile up and that’s not what I was there to do. If I could have got underneath Marc I felt it was reasonable to do so but to run over the inside kerb and potentially take out the world champion elect, I am not there to do that. I was surprised I got the start and to even get close to running up the inside of him was a bit of a shock.”