Marc Marquez set the fastest lap of the race on the way to a podium finish in his MotoGP debut at Qatar.

The 20-year-old also battled to the flag with MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi and beat team-mate Dani Pedrosa to prove beyond doubt that he is the real deal.

Marquez had only qualified sixth in the new shootout format, but strong performances throughout testing meant the Moto2 champion was a contender to join Max Biaggi (1998) and Jarno Saarinen (1973) in winning on his premier-class debut.

Reigning MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo made sure that didn't happen, but the new Repsol Honda rider ticked just about every other box during his climb up the order from seventh at the end of the opening lap.

Marquez overtook triple title runner-up Pedrosa for second position in the closing stages, but was soon passed by a charging Rossi. Clearly not intimated by the seven time MotoGP champion, Marquez dived back under the Yamaha rider at the start of the penultimate lap.

Rossi retook the place, but the pair fought on to the flag, Marquez finishing just 0.2s behind.

"Basically I started at my 100 per cent and I finished at my 100 per cent!" beamed Marquez. Instead he

"To tell the truth, I was pretty nervous on the grid, because it was my first MotoGP race. I don't think I've ever been so nervous before. I found it hard to keep calm and I wasn't as focused as in Moto2. However, I regained my concentration at the last moment.

"The start was important and we knew that we were taking off from the dirty part of the track. I didn't get off well, but I was able to attack on the opening laps and overtake many riders. I think that this was the key.

"Then when I caught Pedrosa and I saw that I was a little too much on the limit, so I said 'ok we will relax behind him'. When I rode behind Dani I learnt a lot, also later on with Valentino.

"Fighting against him is always nice to watch, but it's always tough at the same time. Valentino was a tough rival to overtake on the final laps. He beat us this time, but we hope to learn from him and from everyone who went faster than us.

"But in the end I enjoyed it a lot and it is a dream come true to be up here with these two guys [Lorenzo and Rossi]."

Marquez set the fastest lap of the race by 0.124s over Lorenzo - but he was 0.508s quicker than the next best Honda lap, by Pedrosa.

The last time a rookie finished on the podium in their MotoGP debut was Lorenzo at Qatar 2008.


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