Smith ‘heartbroken’ by Sunday’s ‘end result’

Bradley Smith describes his crash that impacted team-mate Aleix Espargaro in Sunday’s Catalan GP as “the worst of the worst case scenarios”; pleased how the Catalan reacted to his apology.
Smith ‘heartbroken’ by Sunday’s ‘end result’

Bradley Smith described Sunday’s ‘end result’ as “the worst of the worst case scenarios” after he collided with Aleix Espargaro on the first lap of the Catalan GP, but believes there are “positive signs” for his team-mate’s rapid recovery.

The Englishman says he was “heartbroken” to not just crash out of his third wildcard appearance of the year, effectively ending Espargaro’s race, but also to learn of the micro fracture to the Catalan’s femur and an injury to his left tibia.

Espargaro was unable to test on Monday but was made an appearance in the Aprilia garage, where Smith offered his apology. “He’s been very understanding,” said the Englishman of his team-mate’s reaction.

Despite his leg injuries, Espargaro hopes to be back cycling in a number of days and is aiming to return to the Aprilia garage for the Dutch Grand Prix that starts in eleven days - a big positive in Smith's eyes. 

“That type of corner [turn ten] as we saw the next lap is like a bottleneck,” explained Smith. “It’s like coming from two lanes into one, especially if someone comes up the inside, the guy on the outside is then a sitting duck and has to reduce so much more the speed.

“I tried a pass on [Miguel] Oliveira, which he was already quite to the inside of the clean line. I was then forced onto the dirty part. Everything was more or less under control until [Johann] Zarco dived up the inside of Aleix.

“Aleix then had to stay wide. Then I had nowhere to go. I did everything I could to avoid the accident. Obviously you can imagine my sheer panic when I realised I was going to wipe out my team-mate but there was just nowhere to go.

“[I’m] Heartbroken for the end result and the fact Aleix is injured. At least there are positive signs he is going to be focussing now on the next eight days to be ready for Assen.”

On Aleix’s reaction, Smith added, “I was with him today when he was inside the garage. He’s been very understanding. He’s been very understanding of the fact I have a very clear history, let’s say, with never making that type of mistake before.

“It just happened at the worst moment to the worst person it could happen to and at his home GP. It’s just the worst of the worst case scenarios but I’m also happy he looks at the big picture in a logical way that one it wasn’t intentional and two I have no history of this kind of thing.”

Smith was handed a three-place grid penalty for his next Grand Prix appearance, a judgement that Jorge Lorenzo narrowly escaped despite the Majorcan’s taking down of three riders at the same corner the following lap.

In the Englishman’s eyes, the five-time world champion “got away very leniently” by not receiving a penalty. “I can’t control what Race Direction did,” said Smith.

“I think and I feel that what happened with me was very, very similar to what happened there. I took one guy out. I didn’t take anyone out really! But also I fully understand the decision from Race Direction.

“I think Jorge got away very leniently but I can’t comment anything else.”

After his race was ended by Lorenzo’s mistake, Valentino Rossi said he had “fought” to restore turn ten at the Circuit of Barcelona to its layout before 2016 when the left-hander was less pronounced.

Asked for his opinion on the corner, and whether he would like modifications at the bend that saw a quarter of the weekend’s crashes across all three classes, Smith said, “It’s so difficult because in so many ways that wall is very close to the circuit straight on.

“I don’t know if you guys have seen it but Marc especially, it was a scary one when he ran in there deep [in 2015 race] and he bailed out straight away when he hit the gravel.

“You’re not going to stop, of course. Staying away from walls is the priority for us. I don’t know if there’s anything we can do. I know the Safety Commission in the past has requested a reshaping of the corner.

“Maybe something in the middle between something we have now and something we had before so we open up the corner and keep a similar line to the old one. But we have to stay away from walls.

“We can’t have guys at that speed charging down towards a wall at a 90 degree angle to what we have. But we also have to consider there were a lot of crashes there this weekend, so we have to weigh up both options.

“That’s not necessarily something I can do. It’s something to do with the current GP riders, Race Direction and Franco Uncini.”