Bradley Smith says a top ten finish on his Moto2 debut at Losail was beyond his pre-race expectations following his fighting ride to ninth position.
The young Briton had enjoyed a respectable build up to his first Moto2 campaign with Tech 3, though he did cause a stir with an outstanding seventh position in qualifying around the Qatari circuit.
Initially pushing up to fifth position after a strong start, though Smith would slip down the order as he was swamped by more experienced riders, he did enjoy an entertaining tussle with fellow rookie Michele Pirro in the fight for ninth.
Though the Italian would drop Smith as the race neared its end, the 20-year-old did have the satisfaction of passing former 125GP team-mate Julian Simon during the latter stages to snatch an excellent ninth place finish.
Having initially targeted a mere top fifteen points' finish, Smith was delighted with such a strong start to his Moto2 career – though he admits it was a tiring race.
“It feels awesome to have got a top ten in my Moto2 debut,” he said. “I'd always set my heart on a top 15, so this is a real bonus. I feel like I earned it though because I am really tired now and the race was quite tough.
“Moto2 is obviously a lot more physical than 125s, so I might need to spend even more time in the gym! I learned so much in the race it was unbelievable. Those guys at the front certainly don't hang around and while I'm obviously happy with my result, we've got work to match that pace. I'd say I'm a second a lap behind them at the moment, but I also learned a lot about the bike and what we need to do to take another step.
“To pass and hold off a rider as good as Julian is a great feeling too. I guess I owed him one from our time together in 125s. The Tech 3 Racing Team never stop working so I know we will have some improvements for the next race in Jerez. It was as much of a test as it was a race, so we can only get stronger.”
Smith also out-paced more experienced team-mate Mike di Meglio, while the retirement of Marc Marquez saw him finish as the top 125GP graduate.