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MOTORCYCLING: Bradley fired up for top-flight challenge in MotoGP
BRADLEY Smith can’t wait for his debut season in MotoGP to begin, although the Oxford rider admits there is still a lot to learn about getting the best from his bike.
It is just over three weeks before the 22-year-old will line up alongside the likes of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo at the opening round in Qatar.
The competition will be a significant step-up from Moto2, where Smith has spent the previous two seasons.
It has been a steep learning curve for the rookie, who completed two tests in Malaysia last month and has one more chance to spend time on the bike next weekend in Jerez, Spain.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 is capable of reaching 220mph, fully 50mph faster than the machine he was riding last season.
Smith said: “It’s not even close to Moto2, this bike is on a completely different level.
“Everything was designed for absolute elite performance and at the moment I feel I’m the weakest link – the bike is asking for more from me.
“This is the ultimate machine, there’s so much potential and it’s down to you to find it.
“There is still a lot to learn, so I haven’t got to this point thinking there will be no more progression to come.
“I don’t think words can describe that feeling of first getting on the bike. It’s still the same feeling every time you open the throttle.
“The bikes are so good at what they do it’s a privilege to ride them.”
Smith will be on the same grid as MotoGP legends and although he grew up watching some of them race, racing the household names will not be a problem.
He said: “Obviously you have the utmost respect for those guys, but once you’re on track they are just a rider.
“You are up against them. Some races you might be mixing it with them, but if you think about the person they are, I think you can get a bit carried away.
“If you just think of them as a number and you have to follow that person, it’s the best thing to do because you go back to your racing instincts.”
Smith says he does not have any specific expectations for results over the next 18 races and is instead focused on improving as quickly as possible.
He said: “At some point during the year there will be a point where everything will click and I will make the next step forward.
“Hopefully that comes sooner rather than later.”