Having started the season by battling for the podium in Qatar Bradley Smith now thinks that the gap to the factory Yamaha and Honda riders is "unassailable" now that the development of the factory machinery has started.

The Englishman, who finished eighth the Spanish Grand Prix, fought with the second group of riders in the early stages, lost ground in the middle of the race before coming back to the battle for fifth at the flag.

While many struggled with tyre life in the heat of the 27 lap race Smith managed his throughout and rode to the pace that he felt would give him grip at the end of the race.

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Indeed, Jerez was a difficult weekend for Smith with the Tech3 rider struggling for a balanced setup but tweaks made in the morning's 20 minute warm-up session played a key role in allowing him to race competitively and finish just half a second behind Andrea Dovizioso in fifth.

The race however saw Smith have to adapt to a lack of rear grip, the youngster claiming that a recent trip to Colin Edward's Bootcamp paid off handsomely for him.

"We had a difficult Friday, we improved on Saturday and in warmup we made the bike really good and I was able to be really competitive," said Smith. "In the race we struggled a little bit with rear grip but we had focussed on the front grip all weekend. I was having to ride like a dirt tracker coming out of the corners! I learned from Colin and JD Beech how to get grip and I was coming out of corners and standing on the footpegs and leaning back out of corners.

"My dad asked after the race, 'What were you doing?' But I was just trying to get some grip! I was trying to be adaptable and get the maximum I could from the bike. The nice thing is that we were less than half a second away from our target of fifth and yet we had the problems that we had [this weekend]. The setting that we had has more potential and i think that means that we can fight for fifth position easier and more regularly in the upcoming races because of the work that we did this weekend."

While the opening four races of the season have seen Smith ride competitively he now feels that Jerez is a good indication of what to expect for the remainder of the season. With Honda and Yamaha now developing their bikes the leading group of factory riders will be increasingly difficult to fight with and having finished over 25s adrift of race winner, Marc Marquez, the scale of the gap is clear for Smith.

"We can't do anything to the gap to the front anymore. We had that chance in Qatar when everything was the same but now that the factory work has commenced it means that satellite teams will never bridge that gap. We might have some chances at some weekends to be closer. When everything was the same in Qatar we were close but now with the factory work having begun that gap now becomes unassailable so fifth position becomes the target."