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MOTORCYCLING: Smith takes sixth spot to tighten grip on top ten
10:00am Monday 21st October 2013 in Sport
Bradley Smith recorded the equal best performance of his debut season with a notable sixth place in a dramatic Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island yesterday.
At one stage, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider, from Oxfordshire, occupied fourth place, but he was happy with his final position.
It took his points tally for the season to 99, which puts him tenth in the rankings with two rounds to go.
He has an 11-point advantage over 11th-placed Aleix Espargaro. Smith stormed back into the top six for the first time since the German round after he made a sensational start to round 16.
The 22-year-old got a stunning launch off the line and on the first lap had surged into fourth and was right on the back of leading Spanish trio Jorge Lorenzo, who went on to win the race, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.
Smith gained precious experience after dicing it out with Valentino Rossi, teammate Cal Crutchlow and Alvaro Bautista in the early stages and he employed a different strategy by opting to enter the pit lane at the end of lap nine.
He was able to comfortably clinch a richly-deserved top six finish and yesterday’s performance gave a significant boost to his hopes of securing a top-ten World Championship finish, with two races remaining.
“Sixth position is a very good result and I got another really fast start,” said Smith.
“It was great to be right up there on the first lap and I could learn a lot in the early stages from the guys with much more experience.
“The setting we ran wasn’t ready to fight for the top six, but I gave it my best shot.
“It has not been an easy weekend with a lot of drama and confusion surrounding the tyres, but my crew remained calm and concentrated throughout, and it was good to pay them back.”
There was drama at the head of the field as Lorenzo won a dramatic race, which saw championship leader Marquez disqualified.
He failed to pit by the required time and scored no points. Yamaha’s Lorenzo, who started from pole and led throughout, now trails his fellow Spaniard by 18 points going into next week’s penultimate race in Japan.
Pedrosa was second, while Rossi held off the challenge of Britain’s Crutchlow for third.
World Championship standings: 1 M Marquez (Spn) 298pts, 2 J Lorenzo (Spn) 280, 3 D Pedrosa (Spn) 264, 4 V Rossi (It) 214, 5 C Crutchlow (GB) 179, 6 A Bautista (Spn) 147, 7 S Bradl (Ger) 135, 8 A Dovizioso (It), 127, 9 N Hayden (USA) 111, 10 B Smith (GB) 99.
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