Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Bradley Smith produced a strong showing to finish the round six battle at the meandering Mugello circuit in 7th place aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1. The British star undertook a superb start and shot from the head of the third row on the grid up to 3rd by the time he entered the first corner as he fought with the leading MotoGP bikes. He quickly stuck into his rhythm but got shuffled back yet remained composed and reignited his campaign to move back up the field by setting a series of consistent lap times. He reclaimed 8that the midpoint of the race and continued to make advances forward with his target being the factory Suzuki of Aleix Espargaro who he slotted past on lap 15. The 25 year old powered onwards and comfortably opened a gap to the pursuing riders before speeding across the finish line only 13.340 seconds behind the leading bike. The result sees him successfully clinch a return to the top independent team position.
On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team pit box, Pol Espargaro suffered a tricky race as he met the chequered flag in 15th despite his best efforts after unfortunately falling and then re-joining the GP. The young Spaniard began the Grand Prix from the middle of the fifth row, but he was unluckily pushed wide on the opening lap and dropped back to 15th. Yet, he remained fully focused and started his quest to jump back up the field, moving up three places with just under a third of total distance having been completed. However, a mistake two laps later caused Espargaro to fall but he bravely remounted and determinedly closed the gap to the final point scoring position, which he claimed on lap 17. Nevertheless, the current leader in the independent standings will seek to make amends at the next MotoGP event, the Monster Energy sponsored Gran Premio de Cataluña, his home race.
Position: 7th - Championship: 12th - Points: 29
"I am very happy to finally be the top independent rider plus back to where I need to be. I worked on my starts all weekend and we did way more practice than usual but it looks like it paid off! I pulled down the left-hand side and as a result, I was third as we entered the first corner. Yet, to be really honest, I didn't have such a great pace at the beginning but I aimed to stay as close as possible to the guys in front plus not make any mistakes because I knew that my pace would be better later on. Therefore, I tried to look after the tyres as best as I could and remain consistent. All weekend we felt good and we modified the bike a little bit from Le Mans even though I was already pleased with the feeling. Thirteen seconds behind the leader at the end of the event is a strong result for us and shows that we have worked in the right direction. Petrucci tried to fight me in the last laps but I had a little bit left in the reserve tank so I just went for it in the final part. It has taken us until the sixth round to get to where we were last year, which is quite a long time but we have plenty more races to go to make up the points we lost at the start of the season. Altogether I wasn’t as fast at adapting to the Michelin tyres when compared to some of the other riders, but we can see that we are getting there and I'm confident, plus looking forward to the next round."
Position: 15th - Championship: 7th - Points: 48
"We had the speed over the entire weekend but we just weren't able to score the result that we needed to today. The team and I had to face quite a few difficulties at this event, but with regards to the race, if you start from that far behind, you have to either pass a lot of riders really quickly or any hope of a good finish is gone. I tried to overtake as much as I could at the beginning but as a result. I had some contact with other riders which caused me to lose a lot of time in the initial laps. I saw that the group in front was getting away from me so I pushed harder and caught up to Pirro. However, the Ducati’s are strong at this track, so it takes that bit extra to pass them. In the end, I ended up braking a bit too late when I tried to overtake him and I ran off the asphalt. I fell but I was able to pick up the bike and finish the race. We will leave Italy with only one point in our pocket, which is not at all what we aimed for but at least it’s something. Next up is my home GP in Montmelo where I fully intend to do a much better job and seal a great result in front of my home fans."
Hervé Poncharal - Team manager:
“What a weekend we have just had in Mugello. The conditions were ideal for racing and it really is a super feeling to see MotoGP getting more and more popular. The crowd was amazing and it goes without saying that this event was special. I am very happy to see Bradley back to where he was last year which is where he wants to be. He had a strong qualifying, plus a great race and he was the top independent rider both times, which means a lot. The gap to the winner in the GP was small and a lot less than what it used to be for us, which is also important. Brad managed to keep all the satellite Ducati’s behind him which was not easy here and in the second part of the Grand Prix he was lapping very close to Viñales’ times. Bradley did a top job and I want to thank him for this. On the other hand, I am really sorry and disappointed for Pol because he had a good pace as well as rhythm this weekend but he crashed twice when it was not necessary. In Q1 he was fast and could have easily made it into Qualifying 2 and seized a grid position on the second row. Still, today I think his start was not ideal but he showed what he could do as he was catching the group in front so he would have been quite close to Bradley but he unfortunately crashed again. He made too many mistakes during this weekend, but anyway I want to thank him because he picked the bike up and got a point. What I want at the next Grand Prix is for both of our riders to finish strongly, unlike the last two GP’s. It would be fantastic for them to end up where they belong which for me is first and second in the independent classifications. Thanks to the whole team who worked hard and lets see what happens in Cataluña.”