KTM Announces Bradley Smith as Factory Rider for 2017 and 2018

KTM announces the name of their first contracted rider who will be aboard the RC16 machine in 2017. British Bradley Smith will ride one of the two KTM RC16 motorcycles at the beginning of the next season. House Mattighofen looks super-confident in the results they will obtain and went on to make a full, two-season deal offer Smith accepted gladly.
Bradley Smith at the start line in Qatar, 2016 1 photo
There is still no word out there about who might be the second rider donning KTM leathers next year. Some say it could be even Johann Zarco, despite the fact that the recent rumors say that Suzuki might be eyeing having the Frenchman in their team.

Seeing KTM signing Zarco would not be exactly surprising, because he is riding for Aki Ajo's Ajo Motorsport, the same outfit that cares for KTM's Moto3 team.

Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro knew that unless they showed spectacular results, Yamaha would let them go

Both riders of the Yamaha satellite knew that the factory was looking for new talents. Earlier this year, Lin Jarvis, Yamaha's MotoGP team principal, declared that, unless spectacular results arrive from Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith, they would most likely be free to choose other teams.

Yamaha's top brass has recently said that Alex Rins and Maverick Vinales are on Iwata's watchlist for team Tech 3. Vinales is gradually becoming a better rider, and his 6th fastest time in yesterday's Qatar Grand Prix was an indication that we might see him battling for the podium soon, especially if Suzuki improves the bike.

Now, all of this is only a matter of the past for Bradley Smith, who will occupy a factory seat, pretty much the next best thing to winning races and championships. How good the new KTM will be is a thing time will tell, but thinking about how determined the Austrians have been over the past years, we guess they'll go the extra mile to deliver a flawless bike.

On the other hand, Smith, being on a new bike and in a new team, will also be somewhat free of the high expectations he had to cope with at Yamaha. If anything, he has a new chance to grow together with the team.

In 2015, Smith was the best satellite rider, finishing the season in the sixth position, up two places from his 2014 performance, and with KTM's prowess, he might just do better.

“The MotoGP project is running exactly according to plan. Both the engineers at the factory and the test team are achieving highly professional work with two bikes and their test riders. By signing Bradley Smith as factory rider for two years we can now take the next step in the long journey to MotoGP.

“At just 25, Bradley (Smith) is competing in his fourth season in the premiere class. He rode his way to second place in Misano and last season as overall sixth, he was clearly the best rider among all the customer teams,”
KTM Motorsport Director Pit Beirer adds.
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