Bradley Smith is looking to sign-off his KTM MotoGP career by handing the factory a top-eight finish during the remaining five rounds.

The team took a best result of ninth (Brno and Phillip Island) with Pol Espargaro during its debut 2017 campaign, with Smith just 0.011s behind his team-mate in Australia.

The Englishman, joining Aprilia as a test and wild-card rider next season, was again the only KTM rider in Sunday's Aragon race, after Espargaro rebroke his collarbone in practice. Test rider Mika Kallio has been sidelined by a knee injury since July.

Smith - who had been on course to make Qualifying 2 on Saturday until being held up by Franco Morbidelli and Maverick Vinales (both later penalised) - fought his way from 15th to 10th by the middle of the race, directly behind Valentino Rossi.

Using the prototype 2019 RC16 for only the second time in a race, Smith went on to cross the finish line in 13th.

"I was running P10 at a certain point, keeping Valentino in sight, keeping Maverick behind. Passed Syahrin, passed Zarco. So in terms of performance it was there," Smith said.

"It's the second race with this new package. We keep getting better and I can't be negative about that. At some point that top eight is going to come in these final five races. I believe it.

"We certainly got 15 solid laps out of it and then just run out of tyre a little bit towards the end there. So the next step is to make it strong all through the race distance."


Smith crossed the finish line 28sec behind Honda race winner Marc Marquez.

"[The gap's] still too big. We are 1.2-1.3s a lap slower than the top guys at the moment, but it's what we are working on.

"I think what happened was we got the maximum out of our old package and then we were kind of handcuffed for a couple of weekends. Now we've got the new one, we see the potential there and we're just going to get better in my opinion. So that's what we need to use these final races for.

"We're not making huge steps, but you never see people make huge steps in this game.

"As I always say, these other manufacturers have four to six guys out on track. All that data, all that information, different tyres, different set-ups, different electronics. And we're still with just me on track!

"So I'm trying to guide the guys in the best possible direction and we're still making progress.

"Randy [de Puniet, stand-in test rider] is going to be busy testing Tuesday and Wednesday, and hopefully he can find something we can send to Thailand and find a little bit more performance there."

While Smith scored three points on Sunday, a season-best sixth for Aleix Espargaro means KTM's lead over Aprilia in the manufacturers' standings has been reduced to just five points.

"If Aleix is going to be riding in sixth place until the end of the season then we just have to concede that that is the way it is! The dude was ripping today! I didn't have anything for him," Smith said.

"Whatever they bought in Misano clearly made a good step here. We can only do what we can do, flyaways always bring up some surprises and like I said we're going to try and get better.

"So if we can keep them behind, obviously it would be nice for team pride because we were able to do it last year."