Bradley Smith’s hopes of a first 125GP victory in 2010 were ended by a short rain shower just seconds before the start of today’s Brno race in the Czech Republic
Starting on pole position for the first time since in nearly a year, the field was just about to commence the warm-up lap when rain started to fall.
The race was delayed by seven minutes and with further rain predicted during the 19-lap encounter, the Oxfordshire rider opted to switch to Dunlop rain tyres.
But as soon as the race got underway it was obvious a dry line was rapidly emerging and Smith quickly plummeted down the field.
He was fifth at the end of the first lap but had dropped down the rankings to a lowly tenth on lap six and briefly fell outside of the top ten as he struggled with confidence as the track dried significantly.
Smith produced an impressive fightback in the second half of the race and clawed his way back into sixth spot. But it was a bitterly frustrating afternoon for the 19-year-old, who had claimed his seventh career pole position yesterday.
He eventually finished just 0.072s behind Jakub Kornfeil in fifth.
Marquez was understandably cautious in the tricky conditions after he’d dislocated his left shoulder during Friday’s practice session. He made a terrific start and was second behind Efren Vazquez on the opening lap before he dropped out of the top three on the second lap when Pol Espargaro overtook him.
The Derbi rider, who was chasing a record sixth successive victory, settled for seventh.
With Marquez’s fragile confidence and lack of strength in his shoulder leaving him off the podium for the first time since the second round of the campaign in Jerez, his title rivals did their best to inflict maximum punishment on the teenager.
Smith’s Aspar Aprilia team-mate Nicolas Terol produced a stunning comeback after he missed the last race in Germany with a serious back injury to reignite his title hopes.
The Spaniard was untouchable once he hit the front with a pass on Vazquez on lap two.
He needed just two laps to open up a lead of close to five seconds and only seven laps had been completed and his advantage was a commanding 16.659s.
Terol, who hadn’t won since the season’s opening race under the Losail International Circuit floodlights in Qatar, held a lead of over 22 seconds in the final stages.
His win moved him to within 23-points of Marquez in the standings.
Espargaro survived a late attack from Esteve Rabat to claim a precious second place to cut Marquez’s title advantage down to just 15-points with eight races remaining.
Vazquez crashed on the last lap while in fourth as he fought to overhaul compatriot Rabat, who claimed his second rostrum of the campaign to follow up his third in Jerez.
Danny Webb’s top ten hopes were shortlived when the Kent rider crashed out on the first lap. Webb was high-sided and got his left arm trapped under his Aprilia machine. Early indications are he suffered no serious damage.