U2? Bradl & Hmmm
by staff
Thursday, July 31, 2014

A long career in MotoGP, depending on the team, requires that a rider win races, or show promise of being a race winner in the future, or have an ability to help develop the motorcycle, or have the right passport, or bring sponsorship dollars.

Stefan Bradl and Bradley Smith find themselves on the bubble of having rides in the 2015 MotoGP championship. Both are out of contract at the end of the 2014 season. Their collective futures as MotoGP riders seem to be in danger.

In 2013 Smith was widely recognized as one of the most competent and bright MotoGP rookies the series has seen in years. However his confidence has taken a body-blow by numerous bike-decimating crashes in the 2014 season. The trend started with Smith putting in one big crash per weekend and of late has grown to see him crash up to three times a weekend. It takes a very courageous rider to withstand being tossed into the sky by a MotoGP bike multiple times on consecutive weekends--Marc Marquez is one of the few who can brush off crashes and seemingly suffer zero confidence issues.

Bradl, regrettably, has always been an odd fit in MotoGP. Does he have the credentials and capability to belong in the class? As a former Moto2 champ, he does. He is also a second generation racer thus has enjoyed an accelerated curriculum in racing. Race-win success in MotoGP has not come for Bradl--even though he has had the absolute best satellite bike HRC can provide. HRC will not suffer a rider who can't win on their bike for very long. Bradl received a new lease on life with his new contract at Laguna Seca 2014 but it's doubtful another will be coming from Honda.

With Cal Crutchlow Ducati-mounted for 2014 and 2015, Great Britain has few other choices for front-runners in MotoGP. Scott Redding has the backing of the Brit press and mentions ad nauseam in his press releases how close he is to former MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden. Redding's contract suggests that he is to be factory-Honda mounted in 2015 on the Gresini team.

Bradl may find himself pushed out of the LCR Honda team by Australian wonderkid Jack Miller. Alvaro Bautista may find himself pushed out of MotoGP all together.

And Smith? The simple lack of credible candidates to replace him on the Tech 3 squad is probably the biggest factor in why the very cerebral Smith could keep his ride there.

There's an old adage in racing: you can teach a rider to stop crashing but you can't teach him to win. Smith seems to have the skill set needed to win--he's bright, fast and obviously resilient. If he wants to keep his Tech 3 ride, or somehow find himself slotted into a satellite factory ride at LCR or Gresini, he needs to stop crashing.


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