MotoGP: Smith hands KTM their best grid spot yet

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Bradley Smith has bounced back from a difficult start to his debut season with KTM and their new RC16 project by handing the Red Bull-backed team their best ever qualifying position for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi.

Making his way alongside teammate Pol Espargaró through from the first qualifying session, Smith was able to make a rain-struck session work to his favour to secure an impressive seventh place spot on the grid for tomorrow’s race.

“Today was one of those days where with those drying track conditions it could have gone either way at the end of Q1 but I was 2nd right behind Pol. A great result for us! In Q2 itself I knew I had to be smart with my knowledge of Q1 and use the tyre in the right way when the track was as dry as possible.

“We are seventh on the grid tomorrow and that makes our life so much easier. It looks like it will be a wet race tomorrow which makes the start even more critical because this track can get very wet indeed that in turn gives a lot of spray. However; today was crucial and I took the opportunity when it was there so to do this for KTM, the team and for all my guys on my side of the garage, it feels very good indeed.”

And while the rain might have acted as a leveller to the field and helped the KTM machines close the gap to their rivals, Espargaró says that it took more than just luck to give them success today.

“In these tricky conditions you have to make your own luck but it worked. You need to be fast but in these conditions as you never know what the next corner can give to you so we did well to do these lap times. I’m very happy for the guys in the garage and in Austria as so many people are working so hard for us to get these good results. Another great day for KTM in MotoGP. For the race tomorrow, let’s see what the weather is going to do but whatever happens, it is going to be a Sunday to enjoy.”

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer