Bradley Smith has signed on for another season with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team. The British rider has extended his contract, and will continue to ride for the team in 2016.
The announcement and its timing had been widely expected, coming as it does just days before the start of the British round of MotoGP at Silverstone. Smith had made it clear since before the summer break that he wanted to stay with Tech 3, but the contract took longer to put together than hoped. Smith spoke of his frustration about the situation at Indianapolis, though by Brno, some progress appeared to have been made. The deal was finalized shortly after the Czech round of MotoGP, just in time to be announced at his home race.
The stumbling block to a new contract was ensuring that Smith received equal treatment with Tech 3 teammate Pol Espargaro for 2016. This had been a thorn in Smith's side throughout the season, as upgrades such as a new chassis arrived on Espargaro's side of the garage, but were not available for Smith. As the Englishman has lead his teammate in the championship throughout the 2015 season, Smith felt that he too deserved better treatment from Yamaha. Talks with the factory at Indianapolis helped clear the air, opening the way for a deal to be signed.
Smith deliberately chose to sign just a one-year deal, to put him in sync with the rest of the MotoGP field. At the end of 2016, both Yamahas, both Hondas, both Ducatis, at least one Suzuki and one Aprilia seat will be open, as well as both seats at Tech 3, and possibly other satellite rides as well. If Smith, or any other young rider, has any hope of a factory contract, the 2017 season will be their first shot at obtaining one. Silly season for 2017 is likely to start very early next year, and get very silly indeed in its early stages.
Smith is unlikely to be the only British rider announcing a contract in the run up to the Silverstone round of MotoGP. Cal Crutchlow is believed to be very close to announcing a two-year extension of his contract with Honda, while Danny Kent and Sam Lowes could also make announcements on their future. Scott Redding could also clinch a new deal at Silverstone, but any possible switch from the Marc VDS team is still a long way from being agreed.
Below is the press release from Tech 3 on the deal:
Smith signs with Monster Yamaha Tech3 for 2016
Bradley Smith and the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team are delighted to have reached an agreement that will see the British rider remain with the team for the 2016 season aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1. The contract extension comes as Smith is currently undertaking his most successful MotoGP season to date, where he has finished no lower than 8th so far. Furthermore, he stands in fifth position and at the head of the satellite rankings in the championship after some highly impressive performances. Next season will be the British stars fourth season in the premier class with the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team and his sixth in total after joining the Tech3 Racing Moto2 Team in 2011. In his first term in MotoGP, Smith finished collecting more points than any other British rookie and he followed that success with another hard fought campaign in 2014 with a personal highlight of a superbly executed podium at Phillip Island. Furthermore, the Briton was part of this year's Suzuka 8 hour conquering team with Yamaha Factory Racing who won the elite event after 19 years. Smith will now focus on the remaining rounds in this season and will seek to battle as close as possible to the Factory MotoGP bikes before aiming to challenge for podiums in 2016 aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1.
"Obviously, I am really pleased to be able to continue this journey with the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team and it's fantastic news to resign for another season. We will be going into our sixth year together and I must say that it is certainly nice to be giving the guys the results and performances that they deserve at the moment. So far in 2015, I have been finishing where we want to be which is very positive, as I'm sure that I am in debt to them for the first two years in the premier class! Everyone in the team has put their faith in me again and we know that 2016 will be tricky due to the changes in regulations, however, I am optimistic that this will give the satellite riders more of a chance to be competitive. Therefore I am confident about going into next year, as I know that everything will be fairer so we will continue to work together and we fully intend to take our sponsors onto the podium. 2016 will be exciting and I am more than pleased about being able to ride aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1 and with the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team."
Hervé Poncharal - Team manager :
"I am super happy and proud to finally announce that Bradley Smith will remain with our team for one more year. Brad will hold the record with Colin Edwards for the amount of time in the premier class with Tech3, which is four years and this shows that he will be a very important rider in the team's history. Of course, he deserves to be given the opportunity by the team together with Factory Yamaha to ride an M1 for another season after having had a fantastic first part of the year. In addition, the incredible win that he achieved with Pol and Nakasuga at the Suzuka 8 Hours was really impressive and he made us proud. Now we hope that the fact that his future is sorted will give him a big boost for his upcoming home GP and I am sure that he is going to be even stronger in the final rounds of the 2015 season compared to what we have seen so far."