Bradley Smith is hopeful of challenging the frontrunners again at Estoril after a strong ride in last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix. The Briton hasn't figured at the front so far in 2012 as Tech 3 have struggled to understand their new chassis but an eleventh place finish, a jump of eight places after qualifying, has filled him with optimism ahead of the upcoming Portuguese GP.
“I’m reasonably happy to have scored some points because I knew that starting from 19th on the grid it was going to a tricky race. We made some big changes to the bike compared to yesterday and the modifications seemed to work and that should help me be closer to the front in the next few races. It has not been an easy weekend with the weather playing a major part, so to come away with 11th place is still a really good result and a decent reward for my Tech 3 crew, who have worked tirelessly all weekend to give me a competitive bike. I think we have definitely found a direction with the set-up of the Mistral 610 and now I am heading to Estoril later this week much more confident and expecting to be back competing for the top six, which is where we need to be.”
Teammate Xavier Simeon picked up his first points in 2012 after finishing thirteenth but felt it could've been more had he not got involved in a tussle with the aggressive Alex de Angelis.
“The start of the race was good for me but very tricky because the racing line was dry but really slippery and that made it difficult. I had to be very careful while coming through the pack but I managed to make a lot of overtakes and I was in a really fast and comfortable rhythm. I caught the group with Corti and Elias but then de Angelis arrived and started to make block passes, so we lost contact with the group in front. While we were battling we lost some time and that allowed Bradley and Zarco to pass us. Unfortunately the conditions changed and the race was red flagged. It was the right decision but I am disappointed because we did a good weekend and I could have finished close to the top six without the battle with de Angelis. My Tech 3 Racing crew did a fantastic job as usual and we can go to Estoril confident we can enjoy a positive weekend.”
Team Manager Herve Poncharal was happy with the result given the poor grid positions and hopes to see the full potential of the Mistral 610 at Estoril.
“That was a very difficult race for everybody because the conditions were so unpredictable. Xavier and Bradley both got a good start and they recovered a few places in the early part of the race to make it an interesting battle for the top 10. There was a lot of overtaking but it was inevitable the rain would play some part in proceedings. Bradley actually looked like one of the most confident when some rain drops started to fall but the race was red-flagged when he was looking really strong. He was in the top 10 when the red flags came out but as the result was declared from the end of lap 17, it means he dropped back to 11th. We can’t be too excited to finish 11th and 13th but it is a good result considering the starting positions. Bradley was less than 10 seconds behind the winner so that gives us reason to be very optimistic and confident for the forthcoming races. We believe we have a good bike, so hopefully we can show it in Estoril later this week.”