A shoulder injury prevented Sam Lowes from racing at the Qatar Moto2 season-opener, forcing the Englishman to watch from the sidelines as first-time winner Tetsuta Nagashima led six riders across the line covered by just 2.4s.

"This year the category will be tighter than ever," Lowes said. "There are a lot of riders who have shown they can go very fast in the tests and at the first grand prix. To make a list of favourites at this moment is almost impossible.

"I am convinced that it will be an exciting season with many surprises and a big group of names fighting for the top positions. I'm looking forward to getting the season back on track and building up a solid base for the future."

Lowes has joined the title-winning Marc VDS team for 2020 but was denied the chance to ride in either official pre-season test due to a shoulder injury, which also curtailed a brave attempt to participate in the Qatar Grand Prix.

"It's all been strange both in pre-season and the season opener. The injury altered all the plans," said the former World Supersport champion and Aprilia MotoGP rider. "I worked very hard to be able to get back on the bike in Qatar and I am partly happy because I made it.

"On Friday [practice], I could ride and do more than 20 laps with a constant progression. I was excited with progress, but the pain in my shoulder and the good sense of the team made me realise that it wasn't worth risking aggravating the injury in case of a fall.

"I won't deny that I was angry and that I didn't like watching the first race from the garage, but seen in perspective, we made the best decision."

Like all grand prix riders currently carrying an injury, the halt to racing caused by the coronavirus has provided some unexpected healing time.

"It's not perfect, but it's getting better," Lowes said of his shoulder injury, thought to have been caused by a technical problem. "Every day I feel stronger and I'm getting more mobile. It still bothers me at night and it's hard for me to sleep well, but the improvement is great.

"I needed some extra time to get it ready. I don't like having it because of a situation like this [coronavirus], but I'm taking advantage of it and optimising it as much as I can to recover 100%."

With Europe still in the grip of the coronavirus, there is no firm date for a resumption of racing.

"I am spending these weeks at home in England with my fiancée and my daughter. Fortunately, the three of us are fine and we are trying to make the most of this time together," Lowes said.

"The best thing is that I am with my fiancée and my daughter and we can share quality time and peace of mind," he added. "The worst thing, apart from the fact that I miss riding and grand prix racing, is that this crisis is about people's health and we don't know how or when it will be solved.

"Seeing people suffer and being concerned for the health of their loved ones, with the added uncertainty of not knowing, is very hard.

"The most important thing is that we collectively beat the virus and overcome the pandemic to get back to normal. Once we do that we can focus on our passion and on racing again."

Team-mate Augusto Fernandez crashed out of the Qatar season-opener.