Bradley Smith endured a disastrous qualifying with two high-speed falls on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine at Motegi in Japan, fortunately escaped unscathed.

The British rider still qualified as the top satellite rider in ninth place on row three and believe he can challenge for the top five nonetheless.

Smith, who set his best time in 1m 45.067s, also came off in FP3 and apologised to his team for creating an unplanned extra workload on Saturday.

Related Articles

"First of all I want to start by apologising to the team for the extra work that I created today with my three crashes, which were all on laps where I was really pushing," said Smith.

"A big thanks as well to Pol's [Espargaro] guys who helped out to make sure both of my bikes were ready for FP4.

"Aside from that I have to say that we had a very strong day and I am feeling confident for the race tomorrow as we know what we can achieve. Of course it is a bit disappointing to crash twice in Q2, but I know why it happened and the fact is that I pushed a bit too hard as I knew that if everything went perfectly then I would have probably been able to get onto the front row and so for myself, it was worth a try."

Smith came off at Turn 5 on his second lap in Q2 after losing the front end and more misery was to follow as he went down again at high speed at the fast Turn 12 after switching to his second bike, bouncing through the gravel trap but fortunately getting to his feet quickly afterwards.

"The first fall was a pity as I locked the front going into turn five and the fork bottomed out," he explained.

"I could have picked up the bike but the electronics didn't shut down fully so I had to jump on my second Yamaha. However, the front tyre on that M1 had already done 17 laps when I left the garage, so running at only 0.3s off the top time just before I fell was a bit too much.

"Both crashes were quick and I know that they happened because I was really at the limit. Nevertheless, I have a firm battle plan for tomorrow and I am feeling optimistic for the race after what happened in FP4," he added.

"There, Jorge was behind me and didn't make too many inroads into me and I set low 1'45 lap times as I have been for the entire weekend.

"I still believe a top five is a definite possibility and it is what I will be aiming for as my main ambition is to not lose many points on Dani [Pedrosa] and I have to try and stay in front of the Ducatis."

On the other side of the Tech 3 garage, Pol Espargaro was 11th fastest and isn't yet satisfied with the set-up of his M1.

"Overall, I tried my best but it was a challenging day and we have some work to do ahead of the race tomorrow in order to be able to perform how we want to," he said.

"A positive about today was that we managed to solve the grip issue that was affecting us yesterday. However, I'm still struggling with the turning of my M1 because when I enter the corners it is really tough to hold the right line as the bike keeps running wide. Therefore I found myself in the wrong positions when exiting the turns and it goes without saying that I can't be fast like this.

"Moreover, it is physically challenging and makes it nearly impossible to change direction quickly. As a result we will have a long night and need to take a deep look into the data to improve this situation for tomorrow morning's warm-up, which will hopefully be dry," added Espargaro, who also tipped off in FP3.

"However, I know that if we can recover a decent feeling with the turning, we will have a good chance in the race, but I guarantee that I will do my best tomorrow to give the Japanese fans a good show."