Cal Crutchlow took top satellite honours by riding from twelfth to seventh during his race debut for LCR Honda, in Qatar.

The Englishman, as high as second in free practice, had been left on the fourth row after a fall in qualifying.

The former Factory Ducati rider then spent much of the race in ninth before getting the better of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro in a close finish.

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"I think to come away with a seventh place we can be very happy," Crutchlow said. "It was a good start to the season considering I don't have any experience racing the Honda. The guys I was battling with have been riding their bikes for a lot longer than me.

"We saw the result for Honda tonight. I finished just over a second behind Dani Pedrosa and five behind Marc Marquez. It shows we were all struggling, pretty much for rear grip.

"I think this was about our pace for the weekend anyway, and I made it hard for myself with some mistakes early on in the race, but my pace was consistently good. If I had have got away with the guys in front I could possibly have been around fourth or fifth.

"For Austin we have to improve, take our comments from this race and see what we can achieve there. It's going to be difficult to challenge the guys at the front there, but it's a learning curve for us. I don't think we've done a bad job at all, and we come away happy."