Bradley Smith is up to sixth position in the overall Moto2 World Championship standings after finishing just off the podium in only his second race at a damp Jerez.
The Briton turned heads with his run to ninth position on his debut at Qatar, but would prove even more competitive in Spain – scene of his first ever grand prix win in the 125cc class two years ago – as he qualified in fifth position and led the race early on.
Revelling in the damp conditions, though Smith was unable to sustain the early pace as more experienced rivals Andrea Iannone, Thomas Luthi and Simone Corsi came past, he put in a battling performance against race one winner Stefan Bradl to come out on top in their battle for fourth.
An outstanding result for the young rookie riding the Tech 3 chassis, he thanked the team for the strides that have allowed him to emerge as a surprise front runner so early in his Moto2 career.
“I thought ninth was a great result in Qatar, so fourth just feels fantastic and I want to thank my Tech 3 Racing Team and my crew chief Tom Jojic because the bike was working brilliantly in really difficult conditions,” he said.
“The step we made with the set-up in the wet conditions from the warm-up was huge and I felt much more confident in the race. In those conditions you need to concentrate so hard that the race feels like a lifetime but I just decided to attack from the start. I was a bit shocked to lead but I felt comfortable because it's not the first time I've been at the front of a grand prix.
“I realised pretty quickly I didn't have the pace to match Luthi and Iannone when they came by but that's down to my inexperience and a bit of confidence to push like they were in the rain. If I could run the race again though I'm sure I could have stayed with Corsi and battle closer for the podium. I just lost my rhythm a little bit at about two-thirds distance after a couple of big moments and I got a bit tense and that doesn't help you ride fast in the rain.
“It was great to fight with Bradl and once he came by I relaxed a little bit and picked up my pace again. When he made that late mistake I just decided to attack and push as hard as I could and fourth is an amazing result when you consider how tough this class is and how difficult the conditions were.
“I've still got a lot to learn to be fighting closer for the podium but I'll take this fourth with both hands and look forward to the next race in Estoril with a lot of confidence and optimism.”
Smith is now classified as the highest-placed rookie rider in sixth position.