“Time is running out fast”
With the recent ascension of Karel Abraham to the 250cc class with Cardion AB, the team have decided to part ways with Czech star Jakub Smrz.
‘Kuba' had a mixed season last year, riding at a consistent top ten pace, but some of his best
performances ended with crashes whilst pushing to finish further up the field.
The talented 23 year old recently underwent surgery on a long-running injury, and is now mixing the difficult task of finding a team for 2007 with training alongside the Czech athletic team in the mountains of his home country.
Smrz spoke to reveal his plans for next season and the current state of play.
You just had surgery on an injury, how is the recovery going?
“Since the Mugello crash I was carrying a broken meniscus in my knee. It wasn't a big problem but the knee was already operated on a few years ago and it was better to take it out. I still feel that it's not perfect but I have already started my training programme for next season. I didn't even have any problems riding a motocross bike recently.”
We have been told that you will no longer be riding for Cardion AB, what was the reason behind that, and when did you find out?
“It wasn't confirmed until the last race in Valencia, but I expected it already before the overseas races. I think the main reason is that Cardion AB's plans changed, and of course there were some other things which contributed to this decision. But that's history for now, I've got some experience for the future and I have to look forward. Of course it's a blow for Czech fans, probably also a surprise for many other people, but that's how racing life is, and I'm a racer.
What are the options available to you now?
“I must say the decision not to continue with my ‘previous' team was a little bit late in coming. Time is running out fast, but we are working really hard to find the right decision. I already have a few possibilities to ride with an Aprilia kit bike, but to tell the truth after this season it would be a step back for me. That's why we are also negotiating with some good teams in 250cc which could arrange an Aprilia LE bike for me. I want to have the best conditions in which to show my riding ability. I already have a lot of experience in 250cc, but as I have said this was my first year on an Aprilia and I suppose it wasn't bad. I'm happy that Aprilia gave me this chance and I hope that I showed them that I can be fast, but I also know where I can still improve further.”
2006 started well for you, but it seemed like you had bad luck in races where you could have been a contender ( Le Mans, Brno, etc...). Overall, do you think it was a positive year or not?
“It depends on the point of view. I know that I can be higher in the classification and scoring some more points, if I'm not ending some of my top 10 rides in the gravel. But I wouldn't be a racer if I couldn't ride fast and be willing to run the risk of this happening.
On the other hand, that was the first year with Aprilia and I had to work a lot on changing my riding style after riding for many years on a Honda, and this isn't easy. That's why I had a lot of crashes after losing the front end, because I'm used to braking really hard and there was mostly too much pressure on the front. For sure it was a season that I really learnt lots with my new chief mechanic Mauro Noccioli and the other three guys who worked with me. We were trying to do our best, worked as hard as possible and we had a lot of fun all the time. My bike was always perfect, only sometimes I was too sensitive to some suspension changes.”
The 250cc class has a lot of new riders coming from the 125cc next season, as well as the usual tough competitors. Ability wise, where would be a realistic position for you on an LE bike in the championship?
“That's difficult to say. This was my first year with Aprilia and I'm really grateful to get this opportunity from an Italian factory, which made an improvement in my riding skills. I showed many times that I could be at the front and fight against factory bikes or riders with more experience on Aprilia bikes. My results were not that consistent this year, and this has to be different next season. I know that some young fast guys are coming in, but if I learn from this year's mistakes, together with right team, bike and also a good spirit I should be a regular top ten rider.”
DORNA / CAPSIS International