Smith brings more MotoGP pedigree to EWC as MOTO AIN's determination is rewarded
MOTO AIN is ready to race on in the FIM Endurance World Championship after securing a top trio of riders for the 2022 season-opening 24 Heures Motos led by former MotoGP racer Bradley Smith.
Briton Smith, who has never previously competed in an EWC day and night race, joins French promise Corentin Perolari and experienced Italian Claudio Corti in MOTO AIN’s new-look Formula EWC line-up.
The announcement, made following the Pre-Test for next month’s 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans this week, marks the end of a tough period for the French team, which stepped up to the EWC’s headlining category last season.
Pierre Chapuis, the MOTO AIN Team Director, explained: “Each year I try to progress. Last season we managed to pass the milestone of the EWC category with great results, including a second place at the Bol d’Or. But the EWC category is much more demanding than the Superstock category.
“This winter, everything was very, very complicated, the worst off-season since the creation of the team. But, fortunately, several members of the team supported me to continue the project in 2022 and partners such as Yamaha, Dafy and Ipone have also responded. I am really happy to have overcome all the obstacles to be on the starting line.”
Chapuis continued: “We have a very good trio of riders for the 24 Heures Motos. In the first tests the three riders lapped in the same second and all have a good rhythm. This allows us to develop the bike settings for all three riders at the same time. It’s very positive.
“We remain on the proven basis of the Yamaha R1 of last year. We know that we are lacking in pure performance, but with our limited resources as a private team, we have to make choices, and I prefer to bet on our strengths, which are consistency and reliability. We can’t wait to see what it can do on the track.”
EWC rookie Smith ready to do something “crazy”
Bradley Smith, a podium finisher in all four classes of Grand Prix motorcycle racing, won the EWC-counting Suzuka 8 Hours for Yamaha in 2015. A three-time winner in the 125cc World Championship, Smith has raced extensively on the Bugatti Circuit at Le Mans.
“I’ve been racing from a young age and for the past two decades, I‘ve been focused on reaching MotoGP, which is the ultimate racing championship,” said Smith, 31. “I am pretty happy with what I have achieved, but as a true lover of motorcycle racing, I also look around for other competitions. The 24 Heures Motos is one of the most famous endurance races around the world and the idea of racing for 24 hours non-stop seems to be a bit crazy if I’m honest. Last winter, when Pierre presented this opportunity to race at Le Mans, it caught my curiosity and I thought, ‘why not’? We have done several tests in Spain and the lap times were encouraging. The technical base of the Yamaha R1 is good, even if we miss some factory parts compared to our rivals. Fortunately, I’ve found some room in my diary, and I’m excited for this challenge. I’m sure it will be tough but also nice to experience the event for the first time. Even if I already know the track from racing in the French Grand Prix, everything else is going to be new for me.”
Corti set to achieve long-term aim with MOTO AIN
Like Bradley Smith, Claudio Corti has considerable experience at Grand Prix level having competed in Moto2 and MotoGP. While the 24 Heures Motos is an unknown quantity for the 34-year-old Italian, it’s a race he’s wanted to contest for a number of years.
“The 24 Heures Motos is such an iconic motorcycle event,” Corti said. “It has always been on my rider bucket list. Every rider should experience that, at least once in their lifetime and this is why I am very excited to race here. MOTO AIN is one of the best private teams, just behind the factory teams. It has provided a very competitive package for me. The R1 is reliable and safe. Even, if they are all volunteers, each member of the team is really committed to racing. I think we will be able to compete against the other private teams and not so far behind the factory one. As a team we will do our very best.”
Perolari continues MOTO AIN adventure
French talent Corentin Perolari, 23, is no stranger to MOTO AIN having contested last October’s 6 Hours of Most. He’s relishing the opportunity to work with two experienced riders. “I joined MOTO AIN for the last event of the 2021 season. The team was impressive with two ex-MotoGP riders, Randy de Puniet and Loris Baz. For 2022, it seemed difficult to do better and it is always complicated for a private team to bring in world-class endurance riders. You have to face refusals, find slots in the agendas, make compromises but never lose sight of your goal. Again, Pierre has taken up this challenge. As a rider, I appreciate this approach. I’m really happy to welcome Claudio and Bradley. They are experienced, fast and proven but they will have to discover 24-hour endurance racing, including riding at night, which is the great unknown. But we can’t wait to see what we can do on the Bugatti Circuit.”
While Corti and Perolari will race with MOTO AIN for the full EWC season, Smith’s agreement is currently for the 24 Heures Motos due to other scheduled commitments.