WorldSBK Argentina: ‘Baptism of fire’ for Smith

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

Former MotoGP star Bradley Smith enjoyed his first ever run out in WorldSSP at San Juan, even if he had to recalibrate quite heavily after so long away from a competitive World Championship weekend.

“Definitely like a little bit baptism by fire, from a racing point of view,” said Smith. “Having not raced and not felt that sensation of being on the absolute limit for a couple of years, I definitely felt a bit rusty there. But the best way to describe it is racing is from 95% up to 100.

“You can ride at 90% all day long, but to squeeze that final 95, 96, 97, that just takes time and bits and pieces. Very happy with the progress. I think first session, we ended up 1.7 secs off and we got that down to 0.6 by warmup. So by that point of view, it was good. This morning, only 0.2 off of my team-mate in warm-up.”

And of the experience overall, despite being nerfed off in race two, Smith stated, “Loved every minute of being inside this team. They run a great show. Clearly the influence of winning World Superbike championships in the past, it still filters through even in the smaller categories. The guys have done a great job the last couple of years to squeeze the best out of the bike. It was a hell of a competitive motorcycle.

“I definitely felt that I was the one trying to catch up, rather than being let down by anything. So, I suppose frustrating for it to end this way. Just makes the journey home a little bit more sour, but in the end, I’ve enjoyed so much the last three days that I know that these things can happen. At the end of the day, when you are new into a championship, let’s say you’re starting probably a little bit out of position from where you normally would expect, which means you’re riding with lesser riders.

“Looking at Bernardi, he’s desperate. He’s been deducted from superbike down to supersport. That was just a desperate move. Bernardi just T-boned me. You can just see, he just comes in and T-bones me. So, I don’t know if Bayliss got caught up when the bikes were sliding, or something.”

Smith would love another go on the bike now he has this weekend’;s experience under his belt. “I’d love to,” he said, “I’d love the opportunity. We’ll wait and see. The thing is, if he (the injured Leandro Taccini, the regular second Ten Kate Yamaha rider), has the opportunity to come back, he’s the full-time rider. I’m just a stand-in replacement. From one side, you wish him a slower recovery than normal, but from another side, I hope that he’s back and he can do the last two races.”