News 15 Jul 2011

Leigh-Smith continues challenging Moto2 season in Spain

Queenslander Blake Leigh-Smith finished a fighting 15th at Albacete last weekend.

Queenslander Blake Leigh-Smith finished a fighting 15th at Albacete last weekend.

Australian rider Blake Leigh-Smith endured a tough fourth round of the Spanish domestic Moto2 series in Albacete, Spain.

Just one week ahead of the racing weekend, his BRP Racing FTR Moto2 was all but destroyed in a testing crash.

The BRP Racing Team did an outstanding job getting the 600cc machine up and ready in time, but this crash meant that not only was time lost repairing the bike, but the Friday practice sessions would end up being more of a shakedown for the new bike, rather than a day to advance the bike’s settings.

By Friday evening, things were on a much better footing with the bike responding well to changes, and bar a small problem with the front end feel, things were looking up.

“It was a real challenge from the moment we unloaded the bike from the truck,” he said. “Even though it felt okay by Saturday, I was still half a second off my best time from the test and that meant trouble.

“Getting stuck mid-pack just leaves you open to so many outside issues, from slower riders to desperate riders to crashes and other things outside your control!”

After first qualifying, the former Australian 125 GP Champion found himself just a second off the pace, but down in 16th, such is the competitive nature of the Spanish series.

During the second qualifying session, an incomplete gear change coughed up a false neutral and combined with an uneven run off, the Queenslander found himself down once again at the Albacete circuit.

Though uninjured, he was unable to complete the session nor improve his earlier times.

Once the flag dropped for the start of the race, a less than ideal start resulted in Blake dropping back to 24th on lap one and left him with a lot of work to do to eke out a reasonable result.

Using the aggressive race craft he learned and honed on the asphalt and dirt tracks of Australia, he was able to work his way up to 21st and join a battle with three other riders.

“It was pretty full on. This category is always tough as we all have the exact same engine, tyres and pretty similar setup,” he said. “It took me ages to get past these guys and try to set out for the next group.

“While I did get ahead of them, I simply ran out of laps to really make something of it.”

After enduring so much in testing and early practice, 15th was a good result on a weekend where luck was as scarce as rain on the Spanish plain.

“It hurt, perhaps not so much my body, but mentally as I know and the team knows we have a package that can and will finish closer to the front,” he added.

“We just need a little more luck. We’re doing the hard yards, so if we stick at it, the racing gods ought to smile!”

The series now takes the traditional mid-season break ahead of a return to Albacete for round five of the CEV beginning on 11 September.