Britain's Cal Crutchlow lived up to his pre-season promise as he outgunned his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Andrea Dovizioso
to snatch a career-best MotoGP finish of fourth place in Qatar.
Crutchlow rode a magnificent race on the satellite YZR-M1 to pip Italian star Dovi to fourth after a thrilling race-long battle between the pair.
The 26-year-old didn't make the best start but a stunning lap of 1m 55.984s on the third lap aided his cause and stood as the second fastest time of the race after 22 laps.
With less than 0.3 seconds separating Crutchlow and Dovi throughout, the former World Supersport champion made his move on lap 17 and held on to finish one place outside the rostrum positions.
“That was a great way to start the season but it was a really tough race. I didn't make a great start and lost a few positions and that is a bit disappointing because I'm sure I could have been much closer to the top three,” said Crutchlow.
“I wouldn't have been fighting with them but I lost a bit of time and the gap to them could have been halved.
"It was a great battle with Andrea and I enjoyed it. I learned a lot as well because he has a lot of experience and it was a game of cat and mouse for a long time,” he added.
“I knew I could pass him but I also knew that he would be able to sit right on my tail, so I just waited for the right moment and made a good move on Andrea.
“After that I just got my head down and concentrated on being consistent and not making a mistake so I didn't give him a chance to pass me back.”
Crutchlow was delighted to follow his impressive pre-season displays on the 1000cc M1 by living up to his potential in the opening race.
“The good thing about tonight is I backed up all the good performances in winter testing and being close to the front with my best MotoGP race. I know I was fourth in Valencia last season but the conditions were tricky and not everybody finished,” he said.
“This was a true result and I am delighted too for my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew. They have given me amazing support and this result gives us all a lot of confidence to take to Jerez.”