Bradley Smith ended his Estoril jinx with a brilliant third place finish in a dramatic Portuguese 125GP yesterday.
After crashing out of last year’s race and never coming close to a top six finish at Estoril, Smith’s hopes of success suffered another blow when he crashed heavily in Friday practice.
But the 18-year-old produced a brilliant fightback for the rest of the weekend and played a starring role in the 23-lap encounter.
Starting third on the grid, Smith slipped down to fifth in a typically frantic opening few laps before he surged to the front on lap six.
Disaster though nearly struck a lap later when the Aspar Aprilia rider ran wide, dropped back to sixth before he was hit by Nicolas Terol.
Refusing to be knocked out of his stride, Smith regained the lead on lap 17 when team-mate and world champion-elect Julian Simon inexplicably crashed out.
Simon’s blunder left Smith fighting for his third career victory with Pol Espargaro and Sandro Cortese.
He was in the running for the victory, but a decisive last lap left him settling for third place and a sixth podium for the season.
Terol’s mistake though means Smith moved back into second in the world championship standings.
He said “It is obvious that victory would have been an option had I been able to slipstream Pol, but it wasn't to be.
"My plan was to stick behind him and pull out on the line, but on the last lap Sandro got in between us and closed up. I am satisfied with the result, especially on a day in which so many other guys fell.
"I was lucky not to go down when Terol crashed. I had a good pace, even though we had lost a lot of time on day one with the crash in practice, so I owe a lot to the team for their work this weekend.
"They were speedy in preparing the bike to perfection for m despite the time constraints. We were able to finish off the weekend with a podium, which is good when you consider that Portugal is not one of my best tracks.
"We are a little too far from the title, but we are in a good spot to finish high up in the standings and I know that I can go well in Australia.
"We have taken a step forward this weekend, so I hope that this continues at Phillip Island."