Halted by gearbox problems in Qatar, rookie Pol Espargaro finished sixth and ahead of the Factory Yamahas during Sunday's Austin MotoGP.

The Reigning Moto2 champion gained one place for tenth at the end of the opening lap, then continued to climb up the order - overtaking factory M1 star Valentino Rossi for sixth at the midway stage. Rossi's team-mate Jorge Lorenzo rejoined in last after serving a jump start penalty.

Tech 3 team-mate Bradley Smith demoted Espargaro back a place on lap 14 of 21, but the Spaniard regarded sixth with a late race pass on Andrea Iannone.

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"I'm truly happy with today's result; to finish my first MotoGP race in sixth position and in front of the Factory Yamahas makes me quite proud," said Espargaro. "I knew that I had to push as much as possible at the beginning, as I didn't want to lose contact with the guys in front of me. I probably pushed a little too much and I could not keep the rhythm until the end of the race.

"But I'm happy that I was able to battle with my team-mate during a certain stage of the race because Bradley is going really fast this season. Being the second Yamaha means we have not done a bad job at all.

"The biggest problem during the race has been the front tyre and I think all of the Yamaha's struggled with it. We knew already from last year's race that it would not have been an easy track for our bike.

"I can physically feel that it has been a very demanding race, the MotoGP bikes are exhausting. I have some pain in my shoulder because of the high number of left corners and especially during braking towards the end of the race.

"The team did a great job and I'm really giving it my all to learn and improve as quickly as possible. I'm already looking forward to the next round in Argentina in a couple of weeks".

Team manager Herve Poncharal was especially impressed with how Espargaro had dealt with the pain from last month's broken collarbone.

"This track was very physically demanding and the shoulder he broke in Qatar is hurting a lot, but he never gave up, and even at the end he was pushing and managed to pass Iannone on the very last lap," said Poncharal.