Bradley Smith writes off hopes of landing 2019 MotoGP race seat
|By David Gruz and Jamie Klein||Friday, July 20th 2018, 11:37 GMT|
Ousted KTM MotoGP rider Bradley Smith says he will turn his focus on returning to the grid in 2020 with opportunities to race next year having all but dried up.
Smith will be replaced at KTM next year by Johann Zarco, having been generally outperformed by team-mate Pol Espargaro since the pair joined the Austrian marque last season.
The 27-year-old had been targeting the vacant seat alongside Franco Morbidelli at the new SIC Yamaha satellite team for 2019, but it now appears that ride is destined to go to Moto2 rider Fabio Quartararo.
"[The SIC Yamaha ride] has definitely gone, already on Monday after Assen I knew that," Smith said. "Now it's a case of seeing what else is out there.
"But in terms of being on the grid on 2019, the chances are 1%.
"I need to have a look at what other options there are now, and just accept that the target will be to get back in 2020."
At Assen, Smith suggested a Yamaha test role would be an appealing option for 2019 were he unable to remain on the grid as a race rider.
"It's not something I would shy away from, working alongside Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi would be a great thing for my career," he said.
"Certainly [a test role is] not a bad fit, and something I believe I bring to the team. I brought it here to KTM and I'll bring it wherever I go next."
Smith matched his best result as a KTM rider on Sunday at the Sachsenring, finishing 10th - having placed no better than 13th in the preceding eight races.
He hopes it can be the catalyst for a stronger second half of the year, especially with KTM scheduled to introduce its 2019 prototype bike for Smith and Espargaro in Austria next month.
"It will be nice if this is the kick-start for the second half of the season, especially seeing how strong KTM was in the second half of last year," Smith said.
"All season I felt I could put in that type in performance, but for some reason on Sundays something was always amiss - mistakes, or crashed into or pushed out or tyre problems.
"It's just nice that it all came together before the summer break. We can have two weeks of having a clear mind and ready to start part two."