No higher than fifth throughout a problematic practice and qualifying, Dani Pedrosa came out fighting from the start of Sunday's season-opening Qatar night race - when he rocketed from seventh to second at turn one.

Although soon demoted to third by Repsol Honda team-mate and reigning champion Casey Stoner, Pedrosa found the speed to stick with pole sitter and eventual race winner Jorge Lorenzo throughout the middle stages.

The pair then re-caught a struggling Stoner with just a handful of laps to go, forming a three-way victory fight. Pedrosa briefly passed Lorenzo for second, but the Yamaha rider responded and was then able to put Stoner between them.

Pedrosa outbraked the #1 RC213V on the penultimate lap, but Lorenzo remained just out of reach, Dani crossing the line 0.852sec from victory.

"I'm very happy with this result because we have been able to turn around all the problems we had during the weekend," said Pedrosa. "After a good pre-season we got here and everything went wrong: I had flu and a fever, I crashed on Friday, then the qualifying practice was a disaster...

"So, it's very good to leave here with this podium, even if I feel little bit sad because I thought I could win this race, I had it in my hands for a while.

"The team did a fantastic job and we saw things very different after warm up; then I managed a perfect start which was a key moment in the race, and I was able to stay with Casey and Jorge.

"In the end, with 4 laps to go I tried to take the lead, but Lorenzo was cleverer than me this time and choose a better strategy. I passed him but he overtook me immediately and also Casey, then I was behind Casey for one lap and lost contact with Jorge.

"Anyway, it's a good start to the season and we will try to do better in Jerez".

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