I flew out of Assen en route to the Goodwood Festival of Speed feeling so much happier than after the last two Grands Prix.
We had a good weekend and I’m just so pleased the speed was there. I can’t be too disappointed to have the third fastest lap time of the race behind Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, but quicker than Valentino Rossi.
I set that time on my final lap, but I was the first of the riders that pitted a lap too late to switch from wet tyres to slicks. To come home with eighth was not exactly what we wanted, but there were so many positives and I’m not going to worry about it.
We made a big step at the Barcelona test which we brought to Assen. I showed my pace in practice on Thursday, lost our way a bit on Friday but re-grouped well on Saturday.
It was my mistake not to come in and change to slicks on lap six but I went on the judgement of Jorge Lorenzo when he did not pit and stayed out there. I lost nine seconds because of that decision on the drying track and that was what kept me out of the top five.
Little bit frustrated because of that and we struggled on the rain tyres, as did pretty much all the Yamahas, and lost a lot of time to Andrea Dovizioso and Marquez in those opening wet laps, but we had the pace on the slicks.
Bradley Smith in action at the Dutch MotoGP in Assen
Riding a MotoGP bike is tough enough in the rain, let alone having to pay attention to the track conditions. Hands up, I made the mistake of coming in a lap too late because I was totally immersed in the racing and actually forgot to check track conditions.
I was so busy spinning and head shaking down the straights I forgot to check the track to find out just when it was best to come in.
My Andorra neighbour Broc Parkes made the best call and came in to change at the end of the first lap to make a massive jump. I’ll learn from it and will keep my eyes and ears open a bit more next time we meet that scenario.
All credit to teams and riders and mechanics for what they did on Saturday because that was tough. Dry bike, wet bike, dry bike and then almost wet bike again, plus slick tyres, wet weather tyres and a flag-to-flag race certainly pushed everybody to the limit.
My boys did a great job in the changeover of bikes from wet to dry and making the right call for the slick tyres with the slightly harder compound on the front. We improved a great chunk when we swapped bikes in the flag-to-flag situation compared to the last time we did it in Phillip Island, Australia, last year. There we lost around three seconds, where here we actually gained time.
The weekend did not start well when unfortunately my mechanic Steve Blackburn fractured his pelvis is a cycling accident on Wednesday afternoon. It was just one of those things when his front tyre overlapped my rear tyre as we cycled round the Assen track, in a similar way to the Pedrosa/Marquez touch in Barcelona.
Steve went down pretty hard and broke his pelvis in two places. He turned up on Saturday for the race on his crutches and gave us some great support sitting from the side-lines. We could have certainly done with his hands on Saturday but hopefully he will recover quickly and be back alongside us next time out at the Grand Prix of Germany.
We will get some extra practice at the Sachsenring to test out a new configuration to the fast right hander at the top of the hill that has caught out so many riders on cold tyres. We will get an extra 20 minutes to see if we like the change with a view to altering it in 2015 on safety grounds. Bridgestone are also going to bring an asymmetric front tyre to help, which will make it very interesting.
I was really excited flying into Goodwood for the Festival of Speed, because along with Mugello MotoGP and the TT, Goodwood is right up there for a very special atmosphere. Everybody there is so interested in motor sport and what we are riding or driving. It’s such a relaxing atmosphere and great to see riders and bikes from the past in action. I really enjoy it.
We will arrive at the Sachsenring in good spirits but please, please no repeat of Assen. I don’t mind riding in the wet but this flag-to-flag stuff produces too many situations for something to go wrong. Wet or dry please, but I’ll pass on flag-to-flag.
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