A maiden front row start and podium challenges in both MotoGP races in 2014 have already highlighted the massive improvement made by British rider Bradley Smith after a tough rookie campaign.
And the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider has admitted surprising himself with eye-catching performances in Qatar and Austin.
Smith stormed to a career first front row start in Doha and was right in podium contention in the floodlit race when he crashed out in the closing stages while running in a strong fifth position.
The Oxfordshire rider then rode to a premier class best result of fifth at the long and technical Circuit of the Americas earlier this month.
Speaking exclusively to MCN, Smith said: “I believed that I could be here but I am surprised to be. I am riding against the best riders in the world and I’ve put a lot of effort in to be where we I am. I kept my head down and as soon as I got this new bike in Valencia last November I felt happy and confident.
In the winter I didn’t set the world alight but did what I had to do to understand the Yamaha as best as possible. People have always doubted me and I had my own doubts as well. You have to bear in mind that there were talks last year around Laguna Seca that I was losing my job and that really hurts. I was fortunate to be given a chance and Yamaha believed in me and gave me a good bike for the Valencia test and as soon as I got that I knew I had to show what I can do. I was lucky to have a two-year contract and now I am able to show what I can do.
Hopefully I am back on people’s radars again and everybody can see what I can do.”