WorldSBK Argentina: Smith’s surprise WorldSSP debut ‘not in the plans’

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

It was a surprise to many when the name of Bradley Smith was stated as the replacement Ten Kate Yamaha WorldSSP rider for the injured Leonardo Taccini at the Argentinian round.

It was also, by his own admission, not the focus of Smith himself.
“It was not really in any sort of plans, to be honest,” said Smith, a rider with lots of experience in the MotoGP paddock. “I went to Portimao WorldSBK because it was Eugene Laverty’s last European race. We lived in the same apartment block for two and a half years and we have known each other for a long time. It was special to go there and celebrate his last race at Portimao.

“I just happened to also walk down the stairs from the hospitality and bumped into Kervin Bos [Ten Kate Team Manager] who said, ‘Ah, I need to have a coffee with you tomorrow.’ I said, ‘alright…’ So we sat down and had a coffee. I did not know what the conversation was going to be, but then he told me about the crash and that his rider had a broken wrist - and would I be interested in Argentina? Probably one or two beers into the conversation I said, ‘why not, let’s give it a go.’

“I have had quite a lot of opportunities the last couple of years, to come back and race. I probably overthought a lot of them and never really felt that it was the right time or I was that prepared. But maybe the alcohol took away all of the over-thinking and I was like… yeah!”

There were some obvious attractions for Smith in the one-off ride he was offered. “First and foremost the bike and the team are the current world champions,” he acknowledged. “So, you kind of can’t snub that. But then thinking about coming into a season three quarters of the way through, or even 80% through - as competitive as it was that I saw in Portimao - is definitely a little bit wild but we’ll give it a go and see what I can do.

“There is not enough time to learn. I have not raced a 600 since 2012, which was in Moto2. I can’t plead complete ignorance of a 600 because we have our school bikes in Italy so I have ridden my school bikes, but never with any sort of vigour.”

Smith’s Argentina ride may just be a one-off, as Taccini is expected to be fit in time to race again at Mandalika and Phillip Island.