Marc Marquez is relishing the prospect of further battles with Valentino Rossi in this year's MotoGP World Championship after the pair turned on the style in Qatar.
Reigning champion Marquez emerged on top of a pulsating final lap duel to begin his title defence with a victory, shrugging off the effects of a barely healed broken leg to take all 25 points on the Repsol Honda RC213V.
It was the perfect beginning to the new season for the 21-year-old, who is already looking forward to the next round in Texas, where Marquez claimed his maiden premier class victory in 2013.
“It was a great race for the fans but those 25 points are so important for me after losing pre-season with the injury,” he said. “It was an unusual weekend because there were many riders at the front that are [not usually there].
“We will see in the next race if this is normal; I hope so for the show. I enjoyed a lot the last lap with Valentino; last year we had a battle on the last lap and he won it [to finish second] and this year it was another battle on the last lap, which was so great: I hope we can have some more battles in the future.
“My question mark [with the leg injury] was the second part of the race but the leg was not the biggest problem, it was my right arm; because I didn't have as much power in my right leg I was pushing more with my right arm and it was so tired after five or six laps,” he added.
“The important thing was that I was fast in the beginning and then in the last ten laps I was able to attack a little bit more.”
The race saw a series of fallers, with Jorge Lorenzo, Stefan Bradl, Alvaro Bautista, Andrea Iannone and Bradley Smith all ending up in the gravel trap, a situation that Marquez admitted affected his confidence slightly, even if this was far from apparent on the race track.
“It was difficult to get the confidence because you could see many riders crashing; they were losing the front so quick. I had some problems with the front during the race but I think everyone had that problem; it was a tricky race but the 25 points are important,” he said.
“I think I had a small advantage with the hard rear tyre; I chose the hard rear in the last moment and my technicians looked at me a little bit strange, but in the warm-up laps I felt great and we decided we would see what happened.”
Turning his attention to Austin, Texas, for round two, Marquez added: “I have good memories and it's one of my favourite tracks; for sure we will try to repeat [his 2013 victory].”