Valentino Rossi's Qatar MotoGP test got off to a bad start when he fell on his out lap.

But the 2015 title runner-up soon put the mishap behind him and went on to finish the night in third place, 0.442s behind Movistar Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo but just 0.014s from Suzuki's Maverick Vinales.

"I started in a bad way, because after ten corners I crashed. I wasn't very fast, but maybe because I had too much angle and the rear slid. But fortunately it was just a small slide at 70 km/h," Rossi explained. "It wasn't a big problem but to start like this wasn't fantastic...

"After, we jumped on the other bike and I'm quite satisfied about today because, also here in Qatar, it looks like our bike is competitive. We can be strong and fast and this is the most important thing, because it's already the third track where the Yamaha is competitive.

"We also started with a good base set-up, in fact I didn't work a lot on it. I felt good from the first moment, rode quite fast and I was able to consistently improve my lap times and in the end I'm in the third position, so it was a good day.

"Today Jorge was very fast, he was faster [than me], but like in Phillip Island me, Vi?ales and Jorge are the stronger riders. In Phillip Island there was also Marquez, here it looks like he was a bit slower than us today [tenth].

"But I'm happy to stay with the frontrunners and already lap in 1m 55s, a little bit faster compared to the test last year with Bridgestone, so it's a good result."

Both Rossi and Lorenzo have now chosen to start the season on a 2016 bike closely based on last year's M1, the Italian saying he is now in 'race-mode' at the final test.

"After the first two tests we decided to go with the bike that's more similar to last year and now we have two race bikes in the garage, so we're already in race-mode. We just need to change [to a new] engine for the first Grand Prix, but we've decided [the package].

"We began today with a set-up similar to last year's race and then made some adjustments, but nothing big. Anyway we still have some problems; we need to improve the acceleration out of the corner tomorrow and work more with the new electronics.

"The races are always different from the test, but looks like in this test we are also more competitive than in the test last year. But we have to wait. From our data and feeling it is not so bad, but we will see in 20 days."

Testing continues on Thursday and Friday, followed by the season-opening race at the same Losail circuit on March 20.

Rossi won last year's Losail round and would go on to hold the points lead until the Valencia finale, where he narrowly missed out on a tenth world title and was left bitterly disappointed at what he claimed was unfair interference by Marquez.

"It was a difficult period after Valencia, but now that feels a long, long time ago - like five or six years ago! I have good motivation and great excitement to restart from zero and try another time," Rossi declared.

The 37-year-old again has former Grand Prix star Luca Cadalora in the pits to offer some ideas and feedback. A decision on whether Cadalora will be offered a permanent role is to be made after this test.

"We continue here because we feel good in Phillip Island. After this test we will have a meeting with Luca and Yamaha. I think it is possible we continue together."