MotoGP: Smith back to fitness ahead of 2017 KTM debut

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Bradley Smith is loking forward to an easier time on his new bike than last timeon the Red Bull KTM tomorrow morning at MotoGP’s first test of the year at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit, with the outing marking his return to fitness after a badly injured knee last year and the first time he's ridden the bike in 2017.

Smith busted his knee and did extensive ligament damage in an endurance racing crash at the Oschersleben 8 Hour race in August – but says that after spending extensive time at new sponsor Red Bull’s Austrian Diagnostic & Training Centre he’s not back to full fitness but says he’s still making constant progress.

“I think we did a fantastic job with the fitness. We did six weeks during the winter and it was nice to get prepared. Also the team was based in Austria for three of those weeks, two weeks before Christmas and one week after. It was good also to be nearby and see their hard word on the new project, and to start to create team bonding. That’s an important thing when you start a new season, everyone working very well together.

“The knee is still not perfect and I am still working on the strength of the right leg compared to the left. We made some good progress but I’m interested to see how it is on the bike. To be in the gym and on the bicycle is one thing, but actually racing on the 260hp MotoGP bike around the racetrack is a bit different. I haven’t been on a motorcycle since the Jerez tests, so of course I’m going to feel a bit rusty.

“But I’m looking forward to starting the season and getting things moving. Most important for us is to put in the laps and gain as much information as possible. That’s my main target. I have no goals in terms of what to achieve except to improve, to learn each day, to evaluate and to make good steps in the right direction towards the best performance.”

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer