125cc: Q and A with Bradley Smith
It has been a long time coming, but in his 50th grand prix start, Bradley Smith finally became a 125cc winner at Jerez today
Afterwards he told AUTOSPORT how much it meant to him - and how it has transformed his world championship hopes.
Q: How do you feel?
Bradley Smith: I can't even explain it at the moment. It's just crazy. You watch these races before in years gone by when people win by 15-20 seconds and you wonder how it's possible. So for me to do it today, to keep on seeing those seconds go up on the pit board, words can't describe it because the bike was working so well and I was just keeping my head down lap after lap.
It was a freaky race really. The wind started to get worse and worse towards the end so I was thankful to have such a big gap. Also the fifth gear problem I had with a couple of laps to go played in as well. I guess it was just meant to be my day today. I'll take that one, thank you very much, and go in into the rest of the season now with my confidence pretty high.
Q: What happened with fifth gear?
BS: I just couldn't use it. It just wasn't working.
Q: And you nearly crashed?
BS: I went into corner number four and the bike almost switched off and then back on, and I went pretty sideways. So I was pretty lucky to stay on. It was a lucky race for me.
Q: So did you have to go from fourth to sixth then?
BS: Yes. Fourth... fifth-sixth... just like that. It wasn't easy.
Q: Have you cracked this business now?
BS: It's not a given. Hopefully the 1/50 ratio will soon dwindle down. That's the plan anyway. It's just one of those races where everything went my way. Right from the start I was able to ride my own lines and my own race. This is a huge confidence booster. I always knew I could do it. It was just a question of actually getting over the line first, and always something seemed to be in my way. Now I've done it and I couldn't be happier.
Q: It's an amazing transformation from two weeks ago?
BS: The thing is there were three dry days, and when you have that at a circuit where you've done so many laps in testing, you can be on it from the word go. We went under the lap record today so the pace me and my team-mate were able to set at the beginning was very fast. If it hadn't been for the problem with the bike I think it would have continued right to the end.
I think the extra 20 minutes in the session at Le Mans will help us a lot in terms of set-up time and more time on the bike. It was all good and I had no problems at all until the final seven laps of that race. I just thought 'please, not today.' And we got the job done.
Q: Is the title on?
BS: After Japan I was disappointed. It took something quite special to pick me up. To be 26 points behind after only two races, I know it's a long season, but you have a lot of work to do. This just shows you how quickly everything can turn around. I'm only one point behind now and the chase is certainly on.
Q: And the last few laps?
BS: When you've been in the zone for over 40 minutes, the final two laps don't make a difference. You think about every possible scenario you might have anyway. With the problem with the bike I had to concentrate really hard on everything else, so I didn't really have time to think about anything else.
Q: So it probably did you a favour then?
BS: In some ways, yes. In others, not at all.
Q: Will you have a different attitude now?
BS: No. Because I've been searching for, and fighting for this victory for the last year now, and the will and the desire was always there, it was just a case of doing it. So now it's not a case of chasing the victory, it's a case of chasing the second one.