Bradley Smith is aiming to hang on to the factory Yamaha machines in the Argentina MotoGP as the British rider continues his quest to the be the top satellite rider in the premier class.

Smith had to progress from Qualifying 1 after focusing on long runs on used tyres in FP3, but sailed through to Q2 along with Nicky Hayden and eventually qualified in seventh place to head up the third row of the grid.

The Yamaha Tech 3 rider's fastest lap of 1m 38.958s was a mere 0.009s behind Movistar Yamaha contender Valentino Rossi in sixth.

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"I am really pleased with seventh position going into tomorrow's race. Participating in Qualifying 1 wasn't part of the plan, but during FP3 I was concentrating on doing long runs with used tyres to make the best choice for tomorrow's race," he said.

"But in the end, it even helped us, as the extra track time enabled us to test a few more setting changes. This was especially beneficial as the bike was struggling a bit in the braking areas, which we managed to amend.

"I was able to go quicker on a used hard tyre during Qualifying 1 and then could further lower my lap time on the soft in Q2.

"Still, things could have gone better, because I knew the track was improving but I made a small error on my first flying lap on the soft, so the tyre's grip dropped," he added.

"If this didn't occur, maybe I would have had a chance at the second row. I think we need to race with the hard rear tyre as it will be the most consistent. My aim is to get a good start and try to remain with the Factory Yamahas."

His team-mate, Pol Espargaro, walked away from a spill in FP3 but went straight through to Q2, securing 11th place on row four on the YZR-M1.

The series rookie was disappointed with the result but is confident he can climb the leaderboard on Sunday.

"Honestly I am quite disappointed with my qualifying result of 11th, but I still feel confident of achieving a good result tomorrow as my rhythm was competitive during all the other sessions and I really felt comfortable on the bike," he said.

"After the crash this morning, I felt a little bit confused but beside a small injury on my finger I was lucky to getaway unhurt and it will not be a problem for tomorrow. We still have to try a few things during the warm up, and also the final tyre decision has to be made.

"In any case I will give it my all during the race, and with a good start I'm convinced I can battle with the other satellite riders."