In the cold light of day, a fifth place is rarely worthy of fanfare, but Dani Pedrosa admitted he was content to leave Qatar with some points on the board after spending the first MotoGP encounter of 2017 nursing Michelin's medium front tyre.

A delay in proceedings meant the race got underway 45 minutes behind schedule and with temperatures in the desert in steady decline, all Honda riders were advised against running the hardest front tyre compound, the preferred option of Marc Marquez and Cal Crutchlow.

Like his fellow HRC men, Pedrosa too encountered problems with the front overheating, and knew he would destroy the rubber if he pushed on toward the front. "I had to go slow all the race," he said.

What's more, the RC213V appeared to struggle on the exit of the final turn, with Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro expressing his surprise at his ability to outgun Pedrosa down the 1km plus front straight.

"I'm happy because I could overtake Dani on the straight," said Espargaro after placing sixth, a position behind his fellow Catalan. "This was like a dream. I've never had something like that."

When Espargaro's comments were put to Pedrosa, he said, "It's true. Today we did struggle a lot with the rear grip but on the rear we kind of lose performance. We don't gain so much lap time. Maybe it wasn't the best grip today.

"I used the medium [rear] tyre and I think he [Aleix] was on the soft rear. But my biggest issue was on the front. I couldn't really go hard on the front from the first lap.

"I had to go very slow all the race and try to manage the situation in the best way I could because I knew if I pushed I would destroy the front tyre."

All things considered, Pedrosa had done well to finish in the top six, less than a second off team-mate Marquez, and seven back of Maverick Vi?ales, the eventual race winner.

"It's the first race," Pedrosa conceded. "There were some crashes. We had marked that this was a hard track for us. This was also a hard track for me. It's my second worst so at least we didn't crash.

"We finished average but we have to look at the positives and try to get all the data that we have now to make things better, and try to achieve better feelings in the next race."

As the start was delayed further into the night, Marquez and Crutchlow both swapped their hard front compounds for the medium on the grid. For Pedrosa however, the sight of rain before 21.00 was enough to convince him that the hard would not be an option.

"When we start to see the rain, the delay, the track condition, with dust and all this, it was clear with the temperature going down, that we couldn't use the hard front," he said.

"We didn't have a stable situation this weekend. Yesterday we didn't ride. The track wasn't clean. Obviously for a harder tyre you need a better grip level on the track. All Hondas were struggling at that point."

Cal Crutchlow - Career Profile by Crash_net