Bradley Smith heads to Mugello for this weekend's Italian Grand Prix in high spirits after finishing a strong seventh at the Sachsenring on Sunday. The Briton showed impressive pace all weekend and although he hoped for a little more than he got in the race, he is delighted with the direction things are going in with the Mistral 610.
“I am really happy with the first part of the race because I was battling for the podium and that is where I should be. But the second half of the race wasn’t so easy and it is clear we still have some work to do to improve the Mistral 610 machine. I had the same problem in the race that I had all weekend in the dry and that was a lack of rear grip. We tried a lot of things to improve it but I didn’t have the drive out of the corner like the rest. It is a pity that I didn’t quite finish in sixth because that would have been a decent outcome, but seventh still gives us something to build on. The Mistral 610 is getting better and that is clear because both myself and Xavier were able to finish inside the top 10, so that shows the brilliant work the team have been doing. Now we go to Mugello, which is one of my favourite tracks, and I’m hoping to have another great battle like last year when I was third.”
Tech 3 teammate Xavier Simeon was one place further back in eighth with easily his best performance of the season. The Belgian was physically spent after his recent injury problems but the result certainly helped ease the pain.
“I am really happy to finish inside the top 10 because it was a very tough race. I was very fast in the early part of the race and it was a very good feeling for me to see the leading bunch in front of me. That was good for my confidence but later in the race I struggled quite a lot. I feel very tired now because this track is very physical, particularly for the left side of the body. My hand still hasn’t fully recovered from the crash in Le Mans and with so many left turns here, it put extra stress on it than previous races. I feel shattered now but I was so determined to finish inside the top 10 that I never gave up and kept pushing at my maximum. I equalled my best every qualifying and best race result this weekend, so the Tech 3 Racing Team have done a fantastic job and hopefully we can continue this form in Mugello.”
Team Manager Herve Poncharal believes the lack of dry running prevented them from optimising the set-up for the tight Sachsenring, costing Smith a shot at the podium.
“I am very satisfied to see Bradley and Xavier together inside the top 10 for the first time this season. This result shows we are making progress with the Mistral 610 machine and we go to Mugello next week looking forward to both of them being very competitive again. It was fantastic at the beginning of the race to see them both fighting hard inside the top five and Bradley was really pushing hard to battle for the podium. We knew it was going to be difficult to maintain that pace because with so much rain earlier in the weekend it meant we only had limited time to work on the dry set-up of the Mistral 610 machine. Bradley kept his focus though and it was a shame that he couldn’t quite get into the top six because I think he deserved it.”
“I’m really pleased with Xavier too because he has been fast in the wet and dry all weekend. Being fourth on the grid gave him a fantastic opportunity to finish inside the top 10 and he grabbed it with both hands. Battling with the riders he was will give him a lot of confidence and he did a great job because his left wrist is not back to 100% and with all the left corners here, it made the race even tougher. But he never thought of backing off and his first top 10 of the season is a good reward for his determination.”