We really threw ourselves into the deep end at Jerez because we felt our overall performance the week before in Argentina was not acceptable. We lost too much time in the early stages of the race and we could have waited until the test at Jerez on Monday to make some big changes or go for it from the word go. We chose the latter but we were completely lost in the two Friday practice sessions with new settings and electronic changes.
As I flew through the air after a big crash on Friday afternoon I was seriously contemplating if perhaps we should have waited but it was too late. We turned it round on Saturday and qualified on the third row for the race and we find ourselves approaching the team’s home grand prix in a much stronger position than we were just a week earlier.
The results in Argentina and Jerez may have been similar but it was a very different race and performance in Spain. Fifth has to be our target at the moment and to finish just half a second away was encouraging while of course more than a little disappointing. I thought we may have been able to find that extra half a second but there was nothing more I could do.
The early stages of the long hot 27 lap race went much better than Argentina. I think we played it smart choosing the softer option compound rear tyre. We knew the factory riders had gone for the harder option but the guys around me had chosen softer and so we played them at their own game. I wanted a good result so badly and had the confidence in the bike to ride underneath people and rough it up a bit – remember the pass on Bautista.
The situation changed towards the end of the race as we all started to slide around in the heat. I was fighting grip and reverting to my dirt bike riding skills, sitting upright and as far back as I could. It was obvious after concentrating so much on the front end of the bike we still need to work on the rear as I struggled for optimum grip but I still was just half a second off fifth place Dovizioso at the finish.
Unless something happens to the factory bikes or riders it is now a battle for fifth. We had one big chance to run with Marquez, Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Rossi and that was at the opening round in Qatar. I expected that but hoped the bikes would be similar for just a bit longer.
I was able to run with them in Qatar with a little help from the test a couple of weeks earlier but factory teams figure things out very quickly, employ clever people and have the resources and experience to make quick changes . Put that together with four exceptional riders and the gaps appear. Fifth is our target and we need to finish there regularly and I think we are on target to do just that.
Argentina was my first visit to South America and what a blast we had. Despite that 15 hour flight it was all worthwhile with the atmosphere in the town and race track plus the track itself so much fun. It’s an exciting place to go and race and I just loved the food.
If the weather at the next round in Le Mans is as hot as Jerez we have taken a wrong turning somewhere. If history repeats itself we could be facing our first wet race this year and I may not have a whole bunch of experience riding a MotoGP bike in the wet but I think it could make for a very interesting weekend –Sorry to the people camping.
I’ve not been home since before the race in Austin and it’s been hard but we are on top of it and I’m looking forward to a couple of days off and sleeping in my own bed before the most important race of the season for my team – The Monster French Grand Prix and I don’t aim to disappoint them at home or they will give me a real hard time for the rest of the year.
Bradley Smith is a BT Ambassador. Read his regular blogs at btsport.com/motogp and in the MotoGP section of our app.