Aleix Espargaro made amends for his qualifying disaster by riding from ninth to a career best fourth on his Forward Yamaha debut in Sunday's Qatar MotoGP season opener.

Fastest in practice, Espargaro was hot favourite to hand the new Open class a shock pole position. But the Spaniard was caught out by the change in balance on the soft rear tyre available to the Open riders (including Ducati) and fell twice in fifteen minutes.

Having confirmed his speed on the medium compound tyre with second in warm-up, Espargaro held his grid position during a cautious opening part of the race, before beginning a battle with Factory Ducati star Andrea Dovizioso that went down to the line.

With mistakes from riders ahead moving them up the order, Espargaro held fourth place by half-a-second, crossing the line twelve seconds behind race winner Marc Marquez.

"I'm happy with this result for myself and the team," said Espargaro, whose previous best MotoGP finish was eighth place. "Yesterday's two mistakes made my race really difficult. I started from the third row and I struggled a lot with the full tank to overtake the two Ducatis, that had a great advantage in terms of top speed in the long straight.

"I didn't want to make any mistakes, so I didn't push as I wanted from the beginning. I was patient and waited for the right moment to pass. It's a pity because we had the pace to fight with the front guys but I have to be happy because we are fourth in the championship.

"I thank my team and Colin that gave me some parts of his second machine to rebuild my bike that was completely destroyed after yesterday's qualifying crashes."

Edwards finished in ninth place and almost 30-seconds behind his class leading team-mate.

"It is not the race I wanted as I struggled a lot with the grip from the beginning," he said. "The main issue remains the same: I can't get my bike turn. We will keep on working and I'm confident that we can improve. I'm happy for the team. We got good points and I look forward to Texas, my home race."



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