By Stephen English

Bradley Smith equalled his best ever MotoGP result with sixth in Sunday's 'bike swap' Australian Grand Prix after arguably the strongest weekend of his rookie campaign.

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider made a stunning start from the third row and was in fourth position at the first corner before the likes of Cal Crutchlow and Alvaro Bautista overtook him.

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It was the latest in a string of encouraging signs for Smith and repays, once again, the faith his team has shown in him throughout the year.

"We played at a few things for the start and it definitely worked!" said Smith. "I was brave around turn one and put myself in there and I'm pleased with that. I was also pleased that with the low fuel level that I was able to follow at the beginning and I was a lot faster on the hard tyre from the start than I had been all weekend."

After his fast start however Smith, like many riders, suffered from excessive rear wheel slides, causing the already fragile Bridgestone tyres to wear even faster.

"Unfortunately, I don't know if it was our setting, but we spun the tyre way too much so it was a good job we were only doing nine laps because I didn't have much left at all! On the second tyre I took it steady and then when Nicky caught up to me I had to put the hammer down. To finish sixth is really good. It was eventful and a tough weekend but I equalled my best performance so I can't be disappointed."

Making a change from one bike to another was a career first for Smith and he admitted that he wouldn't like to have to repeat a flag-to-flag race in the near future. The Englishman saying that, "We lost a lot of time in the pitstop so I don't want to do another one again!"

MotoGP moves on to the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend and the challenges of the tight and twisting Motegi could not be any more different to the fast and flowing, high speed Philip Island circuit:

"The last two races we'll try and improve. Motegi will be very tough on brakes and difficult to manage the full fuel load but it's a track that I like and I'm looking forward to it," said Smith.