You could have been mistaken for thinking Jorge Lorenzo had won the Qatar MotoGP race last night after he claimed a thrilling second place in the floodlit season opener.
The factory Yamaha rider feared he’d have no chance of fighting with title rivals Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa after the Repsol Honda duo dominated practice and qualifying at the Losail International Circuit.
He took the fight to Stoner in the early stages and defeated Pedrosa’s super-fast Honda RC212V machine with some brilliantly executed overtakes against his compatriot.
Knowing how hard he had to ride to split the Repsol Honda duo, Lorenzo was jubilant after extending his amazing podium record at the Losail International Circuit.
He’s not yet finished outside of the top three in any class since the first Qatar Grand Prix in 2004 and he said: “I never stopped believing in myself. Even when things are not so good I put everything I had into the race to try and not be too far away from the Hondas.
"But to be honest I didn't expect to finish in second place. But my pace was constant and also they couldn't make 55.0 like in practice, so all this together makes the race more close.
"This second place feels more important than half of my victories last season.”
Lorenzo believes he could have pushed Stoner harder for an unlikely win had he not made a mistake on lap 17 that cost him almost a second.
He added: “I thought you don't need to crash. And when I was closing my eyes and expecting to crash, I open again my eyes and I stay on the bike.
"Maybe without this mistake I could try to catch Casey, but after this mistake the only thing that I could do is open maximum throttle to finish second.”
For more from reigning world champion Lorenzo, see the March 23 issue of MCN.