Mr. Smith Goes MotoGP Racing
by staff
Monday, February 04, 2013

All eyes will be on Valentino Rossi this week in Sepang as he continues his return to Yamaha, trying to challenge reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo within the same team and regain the form that delivered him seven MotoGP World Championships.

Rookie Marc Marquez also will feel the spotlight as he enters MotoGP with huge expectations for Repsol Honda.

But Rossi and Marquez aren't the only riders who will face more scrutiny than usual. Attention also will be on rookie Bradley Smith tomorrow through Thursday in Malaysia, for different reasons than multi-time World Champions Rossi and Marquez.

Smith enters the premier class with pressure because there's still a segment of the MotoGP media and paddock that questions what he did to earn a pre-ordained ride with Tech 3, the best satellite team in the premier class. Smith signed his deal for Tech 3's M1 after the 2011 season, when he finished seventh in the Moto2 standings with no victories and three podium finishes.

Questions continued to be asked about Smith's readiness for 1000cc prototype racing after he dropped to ninth in the Moto2 standings last season, with no podium finishes. Meanwhile, higher-placing, promising young riders such as Pol Espargaro, Thomas Luthi and fellow Brit Scott Redding remain in Moto2 in 2013 while Smith has graduated to MotoGP.

Team boss Herve Poncharal can downplay expectations for Smith as much as possible. But the time sheets won't lie. And the aggressive Cal Crutchlow isn't going to take it easy on his new teammate Smith, as Crutchlow knows the M1 inside-out and covets a factory ride in 2014.

"I'm both excited and more than a little bit nervous because this is a big deal for me," Smith said to Brit' media. "From the first to the last minute of the three days, I have to keep my brain switched on and do the business.

"This is the most important test of my life so far, and I can't wait."



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