MotoGP: Smith aiming for Tech 3 seat

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Bradley Smith says that he’s hoping for a future in MotoGP after the 2018 season, as he starts to look for a ride for the future after it was confirmed as being replaced at the Red Bull KTM squad by new signing Johann Zarco.

Losing out in the teammate battle within the squad to Spaniard Pol Espargaró, who will remain with the factory team for two more years, Smith isn’t too downbeat just yet. Already linked to a return to his old squad, French satellite team Tech 3, set to move to KTM next season, the Oxfordshire rider says he’s still keen to remain part of the Austrian manufacturer’s project.

“People don’t know how KTM work, and they haven’t really made many announcements about how the project works. But the bikes that Tech 3 are getting will be factory bikes. The idea is to have four of them on the grid with four good riders and then learn from that information. That’s the only way they’re going to improve. What’s the point in giving a satellite last year’s bike when there’s nothing they can learn from it?

“I have great memories with Tech 3 and they’re a great bunch of people. You can see that from what is going on with Zarco, because they’ve managed that situation very well. But on another side, there are other seats available and I have to decide what’s best for me. I took this challenge because I saw KTM as a fantastic brand to be a part of, but I knew that I needed to be involved for more than two years to reap the rewards. To back out now seems crazy, but we’re also in a results-driven world and sometimes it’s better to go with the best bike you can get hold of.”

His hopes of staying at KTM aren’t just pie in the sky either, with project boss Pit Beirer open about Smith’s chances of staying a part of the project – on the caveat that he can continue to find more speed and better results from the RC16 machine.

“It’s a tough moment for Bradley to see that two spots in the factory team are already gone. I expect him to still try his absolute best to fight for a place in the KTM project or to offer himself to someone else, and I don’t think he’ll take it easy or give up. We have four spaces in MotoGP, but it’ll take a strong performance from him. I don’t want to say we have a junior team with Tech 3, because we don’t want to handle them like a classic customer or satellite team. I feel like we have four factory riders, and we need to decide together who to hire.”

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer