World champion Jorge Lorenzo looked like the happiest man in Qatar as he celebrated second position in Sunday's season-opening MotoGP.
The reason for the Spaniard's delight was that, while finishing three-seconds behind race winner Casey Stoner, Lorenzo had pushed his M1 to the limit and beaten Stoner's Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa.
Stoner, Pedrosa and the powerful factory RC212Vs had looked in a class of their own for much of the winter, with the pair also locking out the top two places in every session of the Qatar weekend prior to the race.
But Lorenzo came out fighting on Sunday evening, bursting forwards from third on the grid to lead the first lap, before spending the majority of the race in third.
Lorenzo kept pushing hard and when Pedrosa began struggling with his left arm, Lorenzo was ready to attack.
“I think maybe I am more proud of that podium than a race victory, that's how I feel tonight,” confirmed Lorenzo. “I feel very proud of myself and my team who never gave up and worked to give me the best bike that they can.
“I put everything I have inside into my riding on the track for the race from the start to the end and was on the limit every lap. I almost crashed on one corner but I managed to stay on the bike and finished in second position which is the best that I could do.”
Lorenzo was the only non-Honda rider to finish in the top five on Sunday.
“Jorge raced with a big heart, it was amazing to see him mix it with the competition and lead briefly in the early laps,” added team manager Wilco Zeelenberg. “We can see it will be a tough season, but we can see that Jorge can cut it at the front. I'm very proud of him, it was a fantastic race.”
Lorenzo's new team-mate Ben Spies was seven-seconds behind the #1, in sixth.