Smith swaps TV for track with Jerez wild-card

'Competing against the other riders is certainly more exciting than watching them on TV! – Bradley Smith, Spanish MotoGP.
Smith swaps TV for track with Jerez wild-card

Bradley Smith will make his second wild-card MotoGP appearance of the season at Jerez this weekend.

The Englishman, who has switched to Aprilia test rider after six seasons racing for Tech3 Yamaha and KTM in the premier-class, will be aiming to use recent knowledge of the new Jerez track surface to his advantage this weekend.

"I'm obviously happy to be back on the track with Aprilia for this wild-card," Smith said. "Competing against the other riders is certainly more exciting than watching them on TV from home!

"We did two tests in Jerez after Qatar, managing to take a nice step forward. I hope that our help will be useful for Aleix and Andrea to have a better approach to the European races."

Smith qualified 23rd and last during his previous Aprilia outing in Qatar, falling during the race. HRC test rider Stefan Bradl will also be competing as a wild-card this weekend.

Meanwhile, full-time Aprilia racers Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Iannone start the European season holding 13th and 18th in the world championship.

Espargaro achieved his targets with tenth and ninth in Qatar and Argentina, but was frustrated to fall in Texas.

"Jerez is a track that I really like a lot and it is also nice to get back to Europe after three races far from home," he said. "We have a clear objective which is to battle consistently for a top-10 finish and, given the level of this championship, it is not at all a simple task. We continue working with this goal and that is why we will also be on the track in Jerez on Monday for testing."

New signing Iannone, starting his fourth race for the team, insisted his goal is steady progress.

"We are heading back to Europe, but for me it is still all new with Aprilia, so our approach will remain the same. We learn something new every time we go out on the track," said Iannone, who has a best finish of twelfth so far on the RS-GP.

"I do not want to make the mistake of doing everything in too much of a rush. Instead, I want to keep growing step by step. I have embraced this challenge and I have all the right motivation to move forward with it."

Aprilia could debut its version of the Ducati swingarm device this weekend, having tested the piece on the Monday after Austin.