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Bradley Smith column: I need to learn from French lessons
6:00pm Thursday 22nd May 2014 in Sport
You learn a lot more from bad results than you do from good ones.
I’m confident we can lift our game and learn a great deal from my teammate Pol Espargaro’s superb effort with fourth place at Le Mans last weekend.
We need to check all the data to figure out why I had such grip problems and finished tenth while he had such a good weekend.
One of the advantages of having a fast teammate is being able to look at the other side of the garage to try and work out just what is going wrong.
Of course, his fourth place rankles with me because we are riding the same bikes.
At least I know that both myself and the bike can be competitive.
We are just a little bit off target, but need to get it right and bring it on really quickly because that’s two weekends with bad finishes.
We need to get back on track and have four good races before the summer break.
On Friday afternoon I was dead chuffed. We’d gone back to the bike I’d had at the beginning of the season with a few improvements.
At the end of the day I was fourth fastest, the quickest Yamaha and everything looked very good.
It was not a good idea to completely destroy the No 1 bike in a crash early on Friday morning and the setting changes we tried at Jerez and Le Mans resulted in three front-end crashes.
They gave me a false sense of security, so you keep pushing and it comes back to bite you.
I complained about a few rear grip issues on Friday afternoon and we chased around all day on Saturday to sort it out.
Fair play to the team. They tried everything they could, but we could just not find the solution to sort out the grip.
If I am entirely honest it may not be a suspension issue. There is a good chance it’s about weight distribution.
With my size and my riding style I’m crowding too much over the front of the bike especially in the middle of the corner.
At Le Mans the more I hung off the side of the bike the tougher it was for rear grip. I had to sit very much on the middle of the seat which does not help for turning.
After the technical debrief with the team and looking at everything we did over the weekend, which included a big change before the race which did not improve things, I think moving me on the bike could be our solution.
I loved the start and when I qualified tenth and was on the fourth row I looked up the grid and thought this suits me just fine, round the outside at turn one and then up the inside into the chicane – it worked perfectly.
Alvaro Bautista rolled off and I clicked up another gear and held it wide open, which put me fifth where I needed to be.
I hung in there while the tyre was good, but then faded back when the grip went away. I tried desperately to hang onto eighth.
But I made a silly mistake and almost lost the front at the double right coming onto the back straight. I ran off track and lost two places, which was so frustrating.
The final ten laps was a fight with Andrea Dovizioso and Aleix Espargaro.
I have to question Aleix’s move on the last lap when I passed him on the back straight and he dived inside me at the Esses.
He got in too deep and took us both wide onto the short cut and he gained an unfair advantage, but that’s for Race Direction to decide.
The difference between ninth and tenth is not worth arguing about.
Let’s hope we have found a solution for the next round at Mugello.
Yamaha have a full spectrum of data to have a real 3D image of the race.
They are working so hard and hopefully can soon push those Hondas.
We need to get our butts moving.
Mugello in Italy is a track I really like, but it’s a tricky circuit as my permanently bent little finger will verify after the crash there last year.
But grip issues are masked because the surface produces such good grip levels.
I know that my guys will come up with something different and I’m excited to get to Mugello and try it out.
It’s very undulating and so sorting out that weight balance on the bike is crucial.
Just looking at Jorge Lorenzo’s three victories there over the last three years and we know Valentino Rossi will be very fast.
It will be great to have access to their data and with Valentino making his 300th grand prix appearance in front of the home fans, the plan must be to chase him as hard as I can.
Sunday was the first opportunity this season for anybody to beat Marc Marquez after his mistake on the first lap, but despite that he still won.
I’m sure Yamaha are looking into just why he was able to catch and pass Valentino, who was disappearing into the distance at the front.
I think me and Jorge struggled with similar grip issues, while Valentino and Pol Espargaro found many positives.
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