By Stephen English

Bradley Smith enjoyed one of his strongest races of his rookie campaign in the Malaysian MotoGP at Sepang.

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider finished the race in an uneventful seventh but within sight of his team-mate, Cal Crutchlow, and comfortably in front of Andrea Dovizioso's factory Ducati.

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Smith finished eight seconds behind Crutchlow, a margin of four tenths per lap, and felt that being able to use his team-mate as a focus point throughout the 20 lap race was useful.

"It didn't feel like a lonely race because I could still see Cal and Bautista in front of me at some places so it gave me something to push towards and it gave me a focus point," said the Englishman.

"Even though it was eight seconds, the layout of the track meant that I could see them. Also seeing the pit board numbers going up, with a second a lap to Dovizioso behind me, it allowed me to work off those two things.

"We lost less at the beginning of the race than we usually do. We improved that area this weekend but we're still lacking a bit because I couldn't match Cal when he passed me but the lap times were quite close."

Having made improvements with his consistency on used tyres by changing his riding style at the last Grand Prix in Aragon, Smith is now focussed on improving his early race pace on full fuel tanks.

Whereas most riders struggle with braking on heavy fuel loads, Smith is actually struggling to transfer the weight to the rear under acceleration and get out of the corners:

"I still need to work with full fuel. We made some improvements this weekend but we've got some ideas. It's not getting it stopped it's about getting it transferred to the rear and accelerating out of corners. It's about using the brand new rear grip on the initial gears and gaining a little bike length here and there."