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Julian Ryder's guide to winning a GP by miles

Your guide to leading the rest of ‘em across the line by some 13.5 seconds

Just like James Whitham said on Eurosport the other day, Bradley Smith has been ready to win a GP for over a year now. It didn’t happen until Jerez back at the start of May, but when it did it couldn’t have been more emphatic. As the other contenders cracked under the pressure, Bradley did what he does best; he raced the track. On a clear track there is no faster rider in the 125 class. You’re not supposed to win 125GPs by thirteen and a half seconds, but that’s exactly what Bradley did.

It nearly happened once before, at Assen last year, but when the rain came Brad crashed while leading by an even bigger margin than he had in Jerez. Then Scott Redding won at Donington. I cannot think of two things more likely to batter a young racer’s confidence, unless it’s his team going broke – which is what happened next.

Despite not having won a race, the top team in the class were happy to sign Bradley and he started the 2009 season riding for Aspar Martinez. He also got some new personal management from Randy Mamola. So now we have the recipe for winning a 125GP by a fortnight: the self-belief and talent any racer needs; the ability to ignore setbacks and mutterings you should have won by now; parents who have helped your career all the way while at the same time keeping your feet firmly on the ground; a year or two on a dog-slow Honda; and, finally, the confidence of a big team. You work at most of the stuff on that list but the last one must be earned.

Brad’s career started with schoolboy motocross, followed by the Spanish championship and Dorna’s MotoGP academy. Here we should thank Alberto Puig – not a fashionable notion – for his insistence that Brad should be the Repsol Honda’s only 125 rider in 2006 and 2007.

Selling the idea of an English rider to a Spanish team and sponsor can’t have been easy for Puig. The Honda was outclassed but got Brad on the rostrum for the first time. The 1992 World 125 champion, Dirk Raudies, who won his title as a privateer, used to tell me that “a year at a hard school can be a year at a good school”.

Brad’s dad Alan has a very nice perspective on his son’s career: “I still think of him as a motocrosser but, now he’s won one, I’m starting to think of him as a Grand Prix rider.”

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