MotoGP champion Marc Marquez put a nightmare end to winter testing behind him by being classified second to Maverick Vinales during opening practice in Qatar.

Two weeks ago, at the same circuit, Marquez fell three times on the final night of pre-season preparations and was only eleventh on the timesheets.

"We start the weekend better than we finish the test," smiled the Repsol Honda rider, who was nonetheless 0.596s slower than the dominant Vinales. "The feeling was much better than the test, we changed something on the bike and I feel more comfortable. Even with the wind and less grip, the times were there. Maverick was very fast, but okay we were better, so I'm happy. The most important thing is to improve every day."

Marquez revealed he is sacrificing some of his braking strength to try and make the 2017 RC213V, and new 'big bang' engine, more competitive at the Losail International circuit.

"Corner entry I try to not be fast like last year. I try to sacrifice a bit the brake point to use more the corner speed," said the Spaniard. "But it's quite difficult because one of the problems is still corner exit; we are losing too much and missing something there with the connection of the gas.

"We are losing on acceleration, but I still believe with the electronics we are not in the correct place and at this circuit we have more problems than usual. I don't feel comfortable changing the riding style [to sacrifice braking], but okay at Malaysia and Phillip Island it was not necessary to change, only here at this circuit."

The triple premier-class champion also confirmed that the engine he is using is the same specification as at the final test.

Team-mate Dani Pedrosa was third fastest.

By Peter McLaren