Bradley Smith has confirmed exclusively to MCN that it looks likely that he will not renew his deal with the Tech 3 Yamaha squad for a fifth year, as he chases down a factory ride for next season.
“I won’t be in a Tech 3 garage in 2017. I think it’s clear what Yamaha’s ambitions are within our team, and I think this’ll be my last year. Herve Poncheral and Yamaha have their own programme in place to turn the team into a junior team, a junior feeder, and I’m 99% certain I won’t be part of it.”
However, Smith remains confident that he has a chance at a factory ride for 2017. Admitting to MCN that he probably isn’t in the queue for a Honda or Yamaha, he nonetheless says there’s a chance with KTM and Suzuki if he has a strong start to 2016.
“The big picture is if I can finish as the top non-factory bike and in that top eight, I will be well placed in the draft for a factory ride next year. That biggest opportunity as always is going to come in those first four races starting in Qatar on Sunday.
“The bike I’m riding is the World Championship winning Yamaha from last year and is certainly the closest we’ve been, especially with the chassis, to the factory bike. It’s the most competitive bike Yamaha can provide us and it’s up to me to ride the bike to the limit, especially in those first four races before the factory bikes start to make changes.”
For the full interview with Bradley Smith as part of MCN's season build-up, see today's paper for your free 32-page MotoGP season preview.