Marc Marquez played a starring role in the opening MotoGP race of 2013 in Qatar last night, the Spanish rookie claiming a stunning top three finish on his premier class debut.
Seventh on lap one after a poor start from the back of the second row, Marquez produced an impressive early charge to stick his Repsol Honda RC213V into the top three on the third lap.
He then patiently shadowed HRC teammate Dani Pedrosa until he made a move on lap 17, but he held onto second for only three laps.
While locked in a battle with compatriot Pedrosa for more than half the race, Valentino Rossi had been charging back through the pack and the Italian seized second place from Marquez on lap 20.
The reigning Moto2 world champion tried to respond but Rossi’s speed and experience proved decisive, though Marquez finished third to underline his world title credentials from the first race.
Grinning from ear to ear after his maiden MotoGP podium had come after intense battles with Pedrosa and then Rossi, the 20-year-old said: “I am really happy because before the race I was quite nervous, more than I have ever been.
I knew it would be difficult starting from sixth place with a dirty track and I didn't make a good start. But then I tried 100% to pass the other riders in the first laps and when I caught Pedrosa I saw that I was on the limit.
I thought I will relax a little because if I continued like that we would not finish. In the last laps I tried to push to open a gap but there was Valentino and I had a very good battle with him but Valentino is Valentino.
I tried to catch him in the final lap but it was impossible but I'm happy to be on the podium. It is a very good result for me."
For more thoughts from Marquez on his third place finish, see the April 10 issue of MCN.