Bradley Smith buoyed by return to top six in Australia

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Bradley Smith scored his first top six finish in eight races in an incident-packed Australian MotoGP clash at Phillip Island yesterday (Sunday).

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider made a stunning start from the third row of the grid and passed Valentino Rossi and Cal Crutchlow to lie in fourth position on the opening lap.

The British rider dropped back down the rankings to seventh but was promoted back into the top six in a dramatic race that ended with title favourite Marc Marquez disqualified.

Endless tyre problems on a new surface turned the Phillip Island weekend into a nightmare for official tyre supplier Bridgestone, who had to request to Race Direction for a reduction in the race distance to 19-laps due to excessive rear tyre wear.

The problem got so bad that the best compromise was to enforce a compulsory pit stop on laps 9 and 10, which Marquez inexplicably missed and subsequently got black flagged.

Smith was happy that the pit lane window came on lap nine. The French-based Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad agreed a strategy that would see Smith pit on lap nine and compatriot Cal Crutchlow a lap later.

Smith’s hard rear tyre though was quickly deteriorating in the first phase of the race and when MCN asked the 22-year-old about his race he said: “We have played with a few things for the start and it definitely worked. I was brave around the first corner and managed to put myself in there and I’m happy with that.

I was pleased with the low fuel level that I was able to follow at the beginning and I did a 29.3, which is 0.7s faster than I’d done on the hard tyre all weekend.

Unfortunately on the setting I spun the rear tyre way too much, so it was a good job we were only doing nine laps because I didn’t really have much left at all. I had to take it steady on the second tyre and that’s why Nicky (Hayden) caught up to me. As soon as he did that I knew I had to put the hammer down.

To finish sixth is really good but I lost a lot of time through the pit stop and I don't want to do another one of those again in my life. It was eventful and a tough weekend but I equalled my best performance, so I can’t be disappointed.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt