Bradley Smith took a big leap forward as the Yamaha Tech 3 rider improved to eighth position in qualifying for the Aragon MotoGP.

The rookie ended Friday's free practice session in 13th position but was confident his place on the time sheets did not reflect his potential.

And Smith proved his theory today, shooting up the leaderboard to finish one place behind team-mate Cal Crutchlow after final qualifying.

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Damp track conditions in FP3 after overnight rain prevented Smith from progressing automatically to Q2, but he dominated Q1 with a time of 1m 49.724s before slashing almost a second off his best time in Q2 on the M1 to secure eighth for tomorrow's race in Spain.

"The last two races have been pretty dismal, so it is great for me to be able to turn it around this weekend," said Smith. "I said yesterday that I didn't feel 13th was a true reflection of my potential and thankfully I was able to show that was the case today."

After a long meeting with his team, Smith changed his riding style on Saturday and the move paid dividends, providing a much improved feeling with the satellite Yamaha.

Smith's naturally aggressive style is a polar opposite to the smoothness with which Jorge Lorenzo rides the Yamaha and Smith was told he needed to adapt to the bike if he was to get improved performance.

Easing his transition under braking was one of the key areas and Smith spoke about how he is now approaching each corner with a different mentality.

"Last night we talked about my braking style and trying to keep the bike as smooth as possible," said Smith. "I've got a terrible habit of popping up from behind the screen and the way that you go down the gears is very important. The way you squeeze the brake lever is obviously very important and the Yamaha always like to be inline. If the bike is moving you're doing it wrong and we know that the bike will go straight from the data of the other riders so it means that you're doing it wrong.

"I'm making a smoother transition to the brake area and be smoother in going down the gears. I'm trying to slow everything down. I had a terrible habit of snatching the brake and you'd see my leg hanging off to the side like a chicken wing and I was trying to do everything in one go. They want me to slow it down and be relaxed in the brake area but that's not easy at 350 kmp/h! It's not easy to do but it's a necessity with this machine."

It's often said that slow is fast in racing and Smith tried to embrace that mantra today and felt a big benefit in the wet FP3 session where he was able to concentrate on his riding rather than lap times.

"That's one of the reasons I went out in the damp this morning; I didn't need to ride fast I just needed to get it into my brain the whole sequence of how to brake, how to roll off and use the clutch and everytime I rode I improved that area and was able to go faster and faster and able to carry more and more corner speed."

When asked what advantages he found from the new riding style one of the key benefits could play a key role in his race tomorrow - improved performance in early laps on fresh tyres:

"FP4 was hard but I started to get the hang of it and when we put in new tyres I was getting more from the tyres because I was smoother and smoother and I was able to get more and more from the new rubber."

Smith was happy with his performance relative to Crutchlow and admitted that while it was difficult to be told that he had to change his style, the lap time difference clearly showed that some set-up and style changes had resulted in a big step forward.

"I'm happy with the lap time because it's good to be two tenths from Cal; I'm sure he didn't have the best day but it's still good, and I went faster than Cal and Dovi last year with this bike.

"It's never nice when you're told that you're the problem but it's the truth. With the tweaks that they made today and the changes that I made we found two seconds. How much comes from the bike or me is yet to be seen but without doubt they were right and we improved today because of the changes."

Smith's fastest lap of 1m 48.854s was just over a second off Marc Marquez's pole time.