Smith claims first 125cc victory
Bradley Smith finally scored his first 125cc victory at the 50th attempt, as he dominated today's Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.
The British Aspar Aprilia rider also jumped from seventh to a very close second in the championship after both Andrea Iannone and Julian Simon - who had monopolised the leading positions in the opening two rounds - crashed out.
Smith and his team-mate Simon quickly got away from the pack at the start, while Iannone's hopes of a third straight win ended with half a lap as he slid into a low-side accident. Although the Italian rejoined, he could only finish 19th.
Simon kept the pressure on Smith for the first five laps, before he had an accident of his own - flying off the track in a dramatic high-side at a fast left-hander.
The Aprilia duo's pace had been such that they were already nine seconds clear of the rest of the field by the time Simon crashed. That meant all Smith had to do was cruise through the remaining 18 laps to clinch victory, although he extended his advantage to as much as 20s as his pursuers battled with each other.
You always try to picture your first win, but this is nothing like it," said Smith. "It's been a long time coming, but I'm glad I waited and worked hard.
"Today the bike was awesome right from the start and that's why I was able to win this race - I could do mid 1m47s right from the word go. With eight laps to go I had a problem with fifth gear and nearly crashed. I managed to work around the problem though and get to the finish."
Up to a dozen bikes fought over second place, in a dice that gave the spectators plenty of entertainment while Smith dominated.
It looked like German rookie Jonas Folger might make it onto the podium as he charged from the back of the grid following a technical failure in qualifying, but he tangled with Pol Espargaro at the final corner on the penultimate lap as he tried to grab second.
While Folger fell and Espargaro ran wide, Sergio Gadea was able to slip through to complete an Aspar one-two behind team-mate Smith, with his compatriot Marc Marquez also taking a home podium for Red Bull KTM.
Scott Redding made it two British drivers in the top four, ahead of Efren Vazquez, who claimed a career-best fifth on home ground. Sandro Cortese and the frustrated Espargaro, who had been set to take the championship lead until the incident with Folger, finished sixth and seventh.
Results to follow