Cal Crutchlow put up a tremendous fight for a top ten finish in his MotoGP debut at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar last night.
The British rider was in close pursuit of the battle for ninth with Nicky Hayden, Hiroshi Aoyama and Hector Barbera until the final three laps.
He managed to overtake Aspar Ducati rider Barbera on the final lap to finish in 11th, the 2009 World Supersport champion also finishing well ahead of fellow rookie Karel Abraham.
Crutchlow, who qualified higher than Valentino Rossi in eighth, said: “I'm pretty happy with that and honestly I'd have liked to have got a top ten after how well qualifying went.
"I couldn't keep up with the group that included Nicky and Aoyama because it was tough to pass Barbera. They passed Barbera and I then overtook him to chase them, but he got me back immediately and let them get away because his pace dropped off quite a bit.
"But he's got a fast bike and that makes it hard to make a pass and stay in front of him. I was happy to be in the fight for the top ten for as long as I was and the experience gained is invaluable to help me progress in MotoGP.
"I wanted to finish and get a race under my belt, so it was mission accomplished.”
For more from Crutchlow in nine pages of coverage from the opening race in Qatar, see the March 23 issue of MCN.