Colin Edwards made things difficult for himself with a poor getaway in Monday night's Qatar season-opener, but mounted an impressive comeback to claim fourth position - while contact with Toni Elias sent team-mate James Toseland through the gravel.
Edwards, ninth on lap one, steered his Monster Yamaha steadily up the order , culminating in a pass on factory Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso for fourth on lap 14 of 22.
The Texan went on to finish eight seconds behind Jorge Lorenzo, whose pace Edwards thinks he might have been able to match had he got a better start.
“That was a good start to the season after I made a rubbish start to the race,” said Edwards, who qualified sixth. “I thought I'd got a good start but the next thing I know is everybody flying by me. I was way down and it cost me the chance to fight for the podium really. I'm not saying I could have run with Jorge because he was riding really well, but it would have been nice to give myself a shot.
“The track conditions were good considering the rain we had last night and I just concentrated on being smooth and not abusing the tyre too much and it paid off because when I caught Dovizioso I could see he was having some issues. By the time I passed him for fourth, Jorge was long gone and it was going to take a massive mistake from him for me to get close to Jorge but I kept pushing. I'd like to think I could have kept the pace with Jorge if I'd got a good start, but it's easy to say that after the race.”
Toseland, starting from 13th on the grid, looked well set for a top ten challenge as he shadowed Randy de Puniet and Mika Kallio in the early stages. But just as he closed in for an attack, he ran off into the gravel trap at the final corner on lap seven after a tangle with Elias. Toseland got back on track but finished just outside the points in 16th position.
“It has been a difficult weekend to say the least and I know we have got a long way to catch up,” admitted the Englishman. “This race was almost like a test for me, and like in testing, I didn't have a lot of luck out there. I felt like I could fight for the top ten but Toni Elias came up the inside of me at the final corner as I was closing on Randy de Puniet and Mika Kallio. He touched me and I went off into the gravel and that left me out of the points unfortunately.
“We tried a different front-end setting for the race to try and solve some stability issues I've been having, and there is plenty of room for improvement. I just need time on the bike and a bit of luck to go my way,” he added.