Bradley Smith will lead the factory KTM MotoGP team on their return to the premier class after signing a two-year contract with the Austrian manufacturer. The Briton has been the subject of paddock speculation after making his intentions to finish the year with a factory contract clear and today’s news will see his six year association with Tech 3 come to an end in November.
Smith announced the news on the morning of today’s season opener in Qatar after a weekend when rumours suggested he and teammate Pol Espargaro would be leaving the satellite Yamaha squad once the season is over. Those stories were denied by Tech 3 team principal Herve Poncharal but Smith’s exit has now been confirmed.
KTM’s preparations for their MotoGP return are already well underway with Mika Kallio testing their prototype machine and Motorsport Director Pit Beirer feels the signing of Smith is a significant step in the team’s development.
“The MotoGP project is running exactly according to plan. Both the engineers at the factory and the test team are achieving highly professional work with two bikes and their test riders. By signing Bradley Smith as factory rider for two years we can now take the next step in the long journey to MotoGP. At just 25, Bradley (Smith) is competing in his fourth season in the premier class. He rode his way to second place in Misano and last season as overall sixth, he was clearly the best rider among all the customer teams.”