Misano MotoGP: Bradley Smith just misses podium
Bradley Smith just missed a heroic 125GP podium in Misano this afternoon by 0.284s after a brilliant late fightback from the British rider.
Smith’s podium hopes look dead and buried as he slipped nearly two seconds behind the battle for third in the 23-lap encounter.
But the Oxfordshire rider produced a superb last eight laps to force his way into contention for only his third rostrum of the season.
He had looked like having to settle for a disappointing and lonely sixth place as he failed to seriously threaten in the opening half of the race.
Starting from pole position for the eighth time in his career, Smith made a sluggish getaway and was only fourth at the end of the first lap as he encountered another mystery engine fault that wouldn't allow his Aspar Aprilia machine to rev beyond 13,000rpm for the opening ten laps.
Sandro Cortese dropped him back to sixth on the second lap before he settled into a rhythm to commence his brilliant late attack.
With seven laps remaining he cut the gap back to the group fighting for third to just 0.563s and on lap 21 he claimed fifth from Pol Espargaro.
He then swept by Cortese on the penultimate lap to claim fourth, only for the German to hit back immediately.
Smith did manage to muscle his way back by Cortese on the final lap to claim fourth, but he was too far back to mount a last ditch bid for the podium against Efren Vazquez.
Marc Marquez won the race with another brilliant display of tactical riding.
Without a win in the last two races having enjoyed a golden mid-season run of five straight wins, the Derbi rider was back on top of the podium as Spain celebrated a 21st successive victory in the 125GP class.
Marquez was locked in a duel with title rival Nicolas Terol for most of the race once the pair had managed to pull away from an early bunch that included Espargaro.
Marquez and Terol exchanged the lead several times but the crucial moment came on lap 18.
With Espargaro dropping out of contention to eventually finish in a disappointing sixth spot, Marquez moved by Smith’s Aspar Aprilia team-mate Terol with five laps remaining.
It became obvious that Marquez had been riding with plenty in reserve as he quickly established an advantage of 0.861s on lap 19.
And any fears that Terol could mount a counter attack were dispelled on lap 20 when Marquez moved into a lead of 1.104s.
He easily pulled away to win by 2.185s; his sixth win of the campaign increasing his points lead to nine-points over Terol.
Espargaro’s title hopes suffered a blow with his surprise slump to sixth. He now trails Marquez by 20-points having missed the podium for only the third time this season.
Vazquez survived the late onslaught from 19-year-old Smith and Cortese to claim his first podium finish since the opening race in Qatar.
Danny Webb claimed his eighth top ten finish of the season after narrowly missing out on ninth spot.
The Kent rider just failed to overhaul Swiss ride Randy Krummenacher on the final lap and he missed ninth by less than a tenth-of-a-second.