Bradley Smith will start a strong seventh for the 2013 Indianapolis Grand Prix after earning the distinction of out-qualifying factory Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi for the first time.

The youngster had shown good form in the run up to qualifying and, after comfortably reaching Q2, looked in contention for making it onto the second row of the grid for only the second time this season.

Though he would fall just short of his objective, Smith - who only needs to out-score Aleix Espargaro by a single point to elevate himself into the overall top ten in the standings for the first time - did pick off the notable scalps of both Rossi and Honda's Stefan Bradl.

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"I am happy to be on the third row because we made a really good improvement with the bike today," said Smith.

"Marquez is sticking it way out there at the moment. He's making the gap look very big. The guy's half a second faster than everyone else. Jorge did a great result today, but I'm only 0.7s away from him. It's kind of where we expect to be.

"I did my best lap on my own and then I tried to follow Cal to improve a bit more but I made a small mistake.

"The grip of MotoGP still blows me away. I'm still a little bit behind, especially when it comes to the qualifying lap times. I have to learn to ride this bike a little more like a PlayStation. The things you can do with this machine on qualifying is unreal."

Looking ahead to the race Smith, who has taken a best finish of sixth twice so far this year, added: "We've done a great job improving my feeling with a full fuel tank and this gives me a lot of confidence for the race, particularly in the first eight laps.

"I will be looking to make a good start and seeing what I can learn from those guys in front of me. Being precise and consistent is also going to be crucial at this track. It is easy to run off and if you do get off line it is very dirty, so making the least number of mistakes as possible will be crucial."