By Neil Morrison

Stefan Bradl put in a solid performance to finish fifth in his comeback MotoGP ride at Motegi.

The German suffered a broken ankle in an innocuous fall during practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Yet just 15 days later Bradl endured a gruelling 24 laps to finish three seconds behind fellow satellite Honda rider Alvaro Bautista.

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Having decided to sit out the Australian Grand Prix after sampling the first free practice session, Bradl then underwent physiotherapy twice a day and was only passed fit to ride at Motegi on Thursday.

The German, who had topped morning practice, got a good start from eighth on the grid, taking advantage of Valentino Rossi's mistake on the third lap to find himself in fourth position.

Although Bautista got by on the entry to turn one, Bradl maintained his pace to stay within reach of the Gresini Honda rider and avoid an advancing Rossi in the closing stages.

"It has been a 'crazy' weekend for everybody but, at the end, we had a dry race and I am happy about my result. I was more cautious compared to the other guys but I took a good start from the third row," said the 23-year old.

"At some point during the race Bautista caught me but I could feel some pain in my ankle due to the movement of the bike. Actually my ankle is at 85% and for me it was a long and tough race so we must be pleased with this 5th place."

After missing two races Bradl slipped to seventh in the standings, and now sits 14 points back of Bautista heading to the Valencia finale.