MotoGP: Bradley Smith ready for debut season challenge
British rider Bradley Smith insists he is capable of seizing his opportunity in his debut season in MotoGP.
"These are the best riders in the world but I have a lot of belief in myself and the programme I have been given," Smith told BBC Radio Oxford.
“I am, and continue to be, the country boy from Oxford. I have a great family and group of people around me that keep me level-headed”
"I have to work as hard as possible to get up to the level these guys are at."
Jorge Lorenzo and nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi are just two of the elite competitors that the Briton will line up alongside on the grid.
Despite their superstar status, Smith says he will respect rather than fear them.
"I'm not intimidated, but that doesn't take away any respect. These boys are amazing motorcycle riders and athletes," he stated.
"You have to have the mentality that these guys are just another bike or just another rider.
"I've always been able to distinguish between someone I have admired in the past and people I have to race against now."
Pre-season testing is due to start in Malaysia on 5 February and Smith recently underwent fitness tests at Premier League football side Everton with their coach Steve Tashjian to gauge his conditioning.
Bradley Smith profile
- Born: 28 November 1990
- Birthplace: Oxford
- Riding debut: 2006 Spanish Grand Prix
- Career highlights: Nine 125cc pole positions, three 125cc wins, 2009 125cc runner-up, three Moto2 podiums
Tashjian said: "His sport isn't necessarily a running sport it is more of a cardiovascular sport but to see how he did running in straight lines, his times were not that far off what we'd expect for our Premier League players. I'm extremely impressed."
The profile of the Oxford-born rider is at a new peak with MotoGP regularly attracting a global audience of millions, but despite potential fame and financial rewards, Smith believes his roots in his home county keep him grounded.
"I am, and continue to be, the country boy from Oxford," he added. "I have a great family and group of people around me that keep me level-headed.
"They keep me on the straight and narrow. I still live in the same area, still train on the same roads and hang out with the same people.
"I may have a few celebrity contacts in my phone but it's not a lifestyle that has taken over. My life may get busier in MotoGP but I don't intend to change."