Catalunya MotoGP: Bradley Smith claims dramatic second
Bradley Smith produced a stunning last lap to claim his second podium finish in the last three races of 2010 after a thrilling climax to the Catalunya 125GP in Spain.
The British teenager, who had never finished higher than sixth at the Barcelona venue, kept his cool on a pulsating lap to claim his best result of the campaign.
Second on the opening lap, Smith quickly dropped back to fourth behind Pol Espargaro and Aspar Aprilia team-mate Nicolas Terol.
The Oxfordshire rider was content to let the Spanish duo lead the way for most of the opening half of the race before he moved by Terol to take third on lap 11.
Just one lap later and two-times 125GP winner Smith then swept by Espargaro into second.
But by that stage rampant home favourite Marc Marquez was already well over four seconds clear at the front.
Smith himself was unable to make a decisive break from Espargaro and Terol, though he opened up close to a 0.4s advantage on lap 16.
But there was late drama as Smith looked to have lost his chance to add to his third place finish in last month’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
He dropped back from second to fourth in the braking zone for turn one on the final lap.
Terol then nearly crashed into the back of Espargaro at a tight left-hander before disaster struck for the Spaniard at the very next corner.
Smith had brilliantly attacked to move from fourth to second as the trio entered the stadium section at the end of the lap.
Desperate to try and set up a late attack on Espargaro, Terol ran wide and high-sided as he tried to make the left-hander.
The big mistake saw him walk away unhurt but he surrendered the world championship lead and now trails Marquez by 14-points.
Smith brilliantly survived late pressure from Espargaro to claim second for his best result since the final race of 2009 in Valencia.
"It was an unreal battle. I just attacked from the first corner and the bike felt awesome. It was a manic last couple of laps but luckily I got to stand on the podium and it is a brilliant feeling, "said Smith.
Espargaro finished third but just 0.358s behind Smith. Espargaro said: "It was a difficult weekend but to get a podium is very important and it is important points for the championship. I've increased by lead over Nicolas but Marquez is very strong."
The 19-year-old increased his advantage over Efren Vazquez in fourth in the championship to 34-points.
Marquez though was once again untouchable on a record-breaking day for the Derbi rider.
He’d already broken Valentino Rossi’s record by becoming the youngest rider in history to have three successive pole positions yesterday.
And having got the holeshot he streaked away at the front to claim his fourth successive victory.
That also broke Rossi’s previous record and Marquez is now the youngest rider in history to win four races on the trot.
He was 0.5s clear on the first lap and well over 1.5s in front of the chasing pack by the end of lap five.
He eventually cruised to win by 4.638s and for the first time this season took over at the top of the world championship standings. He leads Espargaro by one-point going into the next race at the Sachsenring in Germany.
Marquez said: "This is like a dream to win at my home track. It is incredible also to break the record of Valentino. It is amazing to win four races in succession but I need to keep my feet on the floor. I'm in a good moment right now with a good bike and an incredible team and I feel really confident."
Danny Webb rode a brilliant race to finish tenth. He was less than a tenth off seventh place after an epic scrap as he finished in the top ten for the fifth successive race.