Andrea Dovizioso made an instant impact on his Repsol Honda race debut, in Monday night's Qatar season opener, rising from seventh to third - directly behind Valentino Rossi.

But the young Italian was forced to back off when his RC212V began losing front end performance, and he slipped to fifth at the chequered flag - one place lower than he had recorded on his MotoGP debut one year ago.

"I didn't start well but I was able to overtake some riders and get into third position," confirmed Andrea. "During the first three laps the machine was performing really well - as it had during practice - and I tried to keep in contact with Valentino, but then I started struggling with the front. It was folding entering the corners and, later, also mid-corner, so I couldn't turn as I would have liked.

"I had to slow down and compensate by turning with the rear tyre. We never had this issue during practice or the pre-season tests, so we need to understand what happened and do some more work to adapt the machine to the tyres," he continued. "It was a very hard fight today, and I'm satisfied that we learned a lot here in practice and during the race. Now we'll analyse the data and work hard for the next one in Japan."

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