Tech 3 Racing rider Bradley Smith kicked off the 2012 Moto2 World Championship with a battling ride to ninth position after overcoming physical and mechanical problems in an exciting season opener at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. A fast start off the line immediately launched Smith into the top 10 from the fourth row of the grid and he commenced a stunning charge towards a group of eight riders dicing it out for the podium in the opening half of the race.

But he was unfortunately unable to sustain his challenge when he suffere d a technical problem with the rear brake of his Mistral 610 machine on lap 12, which prevented him from entering corners with the same confidence. Smith also tired in the closing stages after producing a heroic effort to stay in contention for the top 10 after he was struck down by a bout of food poisoning overnight. He finished ninth and was only 10 seconds behind the winner and the 21-year-old is optimistic he will be fighting for the top six when the season resumes in Jerez on April 29. Xavier Simeon also had the pace to be battling inside the points-scoring places but he was thwarted by a mistake at the final corner on the first lap. Simeon briefly ran off track and dropped do wn to 25th place before he embarked on brilliant recovery that put him just 1.3s away from the top 15 at the end of the 20-lap race.

Bradley Smith (9th — 7 points)

“I gave my absolute maximum out there tonight and I am really happy considering the circumstances to finish in ninth. It has been a tough winter while we have worked so hard to improve the Mistral 610 machine, so this top 10 gives me good motivation for the forthcoming races. The Tech 3 Team did a fantastic job and each time I went out on the bike we made a big step. The race was going well and I was having good battle with de Angelis when I lost my rear brake just after halfway. That meant I made a few mistakes and physically I was tired because of the food poisoning. I’m just glad I trained so hard in the winter because I was drained of a lot of energy by the sickness. To be only 10 seconds behind the winner is a decent result because after qualifying it looked like it could be 20. So we found half-a-second for the race and now I am looking to Jerez with a lot of confidence.”

Xavier Simeon (17th — 0 points)

“I’m pretty disappointed because I made a good first lap and my goal was to finish in the top 10. I’m convinced if I hadn’t a mistake in the last corner during the first lap I would have reached this goal. I made a mistake while changing gear and went out of the track. When I came back I tried everything to climb back up the field but the pace was that close that it was really tricky. I never gave up and kept pushing at my maximum level and when I look at my lap time I know that I would have been able to finish in the points, so it’s a shame. I came to Qatar with high expectations and unfortunately I could not achieve them, so I hope to do a better job in Jerez.”

Herve Poncharal — Team Manager

“Moto2 has always delivered some incredibly exciting racing and I’m glad to see nothing has changed in 2012. I’m very pleased to see Bradley in full attack mode in a race again and he was very aggressive at the beginning. For the first half of the race he was in the leading group and we knew we would have a very good second half of the race because the Mistral 610 is really good on used tyres. But unfortunately Bradley was very sick during the night, so his physical condition was not perfect. He was completely exhausted after the race and I want to thank him for riding such a determined race when he wasn’t in peak condition. I think he had to potential to finish in the top six, which is ve ry important to see that we can be really competitive. I also feel sorry and at the same time happy for Xavier because he did a good opening lap but he made a small mistake. After that though he got his head down and managed to do very good lap times, so for sure without this mistake he would have finished in the top 15. I’m convinced that both guys have the possibility to show us a lot of very good performances this season and I’m really looking forward to the next race in Jerez.”