Bradley Smith has once again proved his Red Bull KTM bosses wrong in their decision to keep teammate Pol Espargaro and not him for the 2019 season, by outracing the Spaniard in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix to finish inside the top ten. The fastest of the duo since the half way point of the season, Smith will nonetheless leave the squad in only two races’ time to take up his new role as Aprilia test rider.
Stringing together a strong second half of the 2018 season, the Brit admitted after the race that he knew that he had yet another chance to beat his teammate, sacrificing qualifying potential to concentrate on race pace and more than making up for it by rocketing from 16th to eighth on the opening lap.
And despite not quite holding onto what would have been KTM’s best result since joining the series at the start of last season, he also admitted that beating Espargaro is something that he sets out to do at every opportunity at the minute.
“I really just tried to hold myself in position for as long as possible, although unfortunately at the end I didn’t quite have anything left to hold off Franco Morbidelli and Aleix Espargaro. But Once again I was top KTM and was able to outwork and outsmart my teammate, which is an important one at the minute!”
Despite a strong start to the year, Espargaro (who retired from Sunday’s race blaming tyre woes) has struggled in the second half of the year with crashes and injuries. Scoring only three points since Assen in June, he now sits only six points clear of Smith thanks to his fourth consecutive points-scoring finish.