Bradley Smith endured his first disappointing weekend in Moto2 after suffering a puncture in the Portuguese Grand Prix.
After qualifying 15th, the Oxford rider was up into the top ten as early as the fourth lap but began to slip back down the order with apparent tyre problems. The instability became so severe that Smith pitted on lap 16, when the Tech 3 team discovered he had suffered a rear puncture.
Speaking after the race, Smith rued the problem, and felt a repeat of his fourth place at Jerez could have been possible.
“It was a difficult day and obviously we were unlucky to get a puncture in the race. At that point of the race I was already in quite a good position and I was feeling quite comfortable. The bike was getting better with every lap, so another top six wasn’t an unrealistic goal. But I had a lot of movement from the rear tyre and I couldn’t continue because I wasn’t exactly sure what the problem was. It is very disappointing as everybody has been working hard all weekend and put a lot of effort in. So when you don’t get the result you feel you deserve you can’t be happy.”
The day had begun so well for Bradley who was quickest in the warm-up, but the incident filled race meant he was the last of the classified runners in 29th.
But Smith still feels there are positives he can take from this weekend, just his third in the intermediate class, and expects the Mistral 610 to perform well at the Tech 3 team's home event.
“I still crossed the finish line even though I was two laps behind and we can still take valuable data to the next races, especially for Le Mans, which is the team’s home race and where I’ll be desperate to do well for them. We will go back to the workshop in France now to fix some problems that we have and work hard and hopefully have a better pace for Le Mans.”
Team Manager HervÃ© Poncharal felt sorry for the Briton and agreed that another strong finish would have been on the cards.
“It is a real pity for Bradley. We knew he had the pace after this morning’s Warm-up to challenge for a top six. Unfortunately we did not really see what happened, we just saw him losing ground and at the end he was so slow that we understood that there was a technical problem. A flat tyre is very disappointing to cope with and it is something that should never happen. Credit to Bradley because he wanted to get back in the race do his best for the team. It is a pity that his hard work didn’t get a top six he deserved.”
The French team have two weeks to improve their pace ahead of their home race, the French Grand Prix on May 15th.