Valentino Rossi began his Yamaha return in style by battling up the order twice in Sunday's Qatar MotoGP, culminating in the Italian legend snatching second from rookie Marc Marquez.

Rossi had set a competitive pace all weekend at Losail, but lost out badly during the new qualifying format and lined-up just seventh on the grid.

When the red lights went out, Rossi picked up where he had left off before his ill-fated switch to Ducati by attacking his way to fourth by the end of the opening lap.

But Rossi then ran wide while trying to pass Ducati replacement Andrea Dovizioso, dropping him back down to seventh.

Rossi's podium chances continued to deplete as he was held up behind Stefan Bradl, but once free he defied the odds to bridge a three-second gap to Cal Crutchlow, Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez, fighting over second. Rossi soon got the better of Crutchlow and Pedrosa, but rookie Marquez - whose aggressive riding style and determination has long impressed Rossi - re-passed the Yamaha rider on the penultimate lap.

A seven time MotoGP title winner, Rossi used all his experience to get back ahead and then contain the young Spaniard by 0.2s.

"I am so happy because my target was to arrive on the podium in the first race," said Rossi. "After the warm-up I knew I had a good pace. However I needed to do a good start and risk a bit to overtake the bikes in front that were a bit slower than me.

"But when I overtook Dovizioso, maybe I arrived too fast. I touched Pedrosa, went wide and from that moment my race became very, very difficult. It was hard to overtake Bradl, so I lost a lot of time and I could see my podium going away!

"Then when I had some free track I had great pace and got closer and closer. At the end it was a great battle with all three - but especially Marc, until the last lap. I was maybe a little faster but we were very close.

"I am so happy. So happy for Yamaha to have me and Jorge first and second, and to give me another chance to be in this team. I think we can enjoy this season..."

Team-mate and reigning double MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo dominated the race from start to finish, winning by six-seconds.



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