Bradley Smith moved a step closer to sixth in the riders' championship with a hard fought fifth position in the Malaysian MotoGP at Sepang.

Having qualified ninth on the grid, the Englishman was pleased to compete with top satellite rider Stefan Bradl and end the flyaway portion of the season with strong performances in Japan, Australia and Malaysia.

"It was a great race for me, that was the best that I could have done," said Smith. "I really tried to stay in touch with Andrea and Stefan at the beginning of the race and then I worked harder and harder to catch up and unfortunately for Andrea [Dovizioso] he had a technical problem.

"It's fantastic for me and I closed a little bit to sixth in the championship and moved into seventh in the championship. Tech3 is now ahead of Ducati in the team championships so there's lots of positives for us.

"We really turned around our season and if wasn't for the unfortunate luck at Brno and Silverstone we've had a really good second half to the season. The team have done an amazing job and I don't really want the season to end now!"

Smith, who is now just seven points behind team-mate Pol Espargaro, added: "We've one more race in Valencia and one more attempt to try and be in the top six in the championship and one more bit of fun before the season finishes."

The heat and humidity in Malaysia is always very difficult for the riders, but Smith was happy with his physical preparations as well as the improvement in pace during the race.

"It's harder now after the race than when I was riding around, there's always an afterburn here. Your body is under so much stress at this race but this is why we do our training and all the hard work. It's a great result for us today after a tough weekend in terms of not really being on the pace. I qualified 1.4s behind pole and finished the race 21s back so we did better than we expected and the team did a great job. Fifth place is nice and it goes along with an awesome third position last week so it's been a good flyaway."

The battle for sixth in the championship sees Pol Espargaro, Smith, and Aleix Espargaro all go to the final round of the season in Valencia in with a shout of finishing sixth with just nine points separating the trio after 17 races.

For Smith the key is maintaining the momentum from Philip Island and Sepang:

"I've got to keep doing races like today, it would have been better to have gotten past Stefan but I gave as much as I could and I had nothing more to give. I'm happy with my performance and we go to Valencia focussing on doing the same job that we did here and trying to battle for that top six position."



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