Bradley Smith's quest to close the gap to the frontrunners over the second-half of his rookie MotoGP season is off to a strong start at Indianapolis as he posted the eighth fastest in free practice, just 0.7secs shy of the top spot.

The Briton was one of the day's most impressive performers, slashing 2.2secs off his best time between FP1 and FP2, in turn getting to within half a second of Tech 3 Yamaha team-mate Cal Crutchlow and just two tenths from factory rider Valentino Rossi.

Also ahead of the factory Ducatis, Smith says he has come back from the summer break feeling strong and is confident he has the pace to automatically make it through to Q2.

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"It is great to be back on my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine again and I definitely felt the benefit of a good summer break with some good training out there today.

"I feel quite comfortable on this track and I don't really have too many issues. Our base setting is in the ballpark but we can always make improvements and I am confident we can take some steps tomorrow.

"We know the track is going to continually improve now for the rest of the weekend, so it will be a case of adapting as the conditions change.

"I'm definitely enjoying it. Eighth position was great for our first day, only 0.7s away from the front guys. I'm really happy with the performance today and also excited to see what we can do tomorrow, to ensure I go immediately into QP2."

The top ten riders after third free practice are granted automatic entry to the final part of qualifying.