The first round of this year's hotly contested MotoGP Rookie of the Year title ended resounding in favour of Joan Mir.

The Suzuki rider ran as high as fourth on has way to finishing the Qatar Grand Prix in eighth, thus scoring eight points.

That was eight points more than any of his fellow rookies managed after Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) and Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Ducati) suffered incidents and Miguel Oliveira (Tech3 KTM) crossed the line in 17th.

While fifth-place qualifier Quartararo was fighting back from a pit lane start, Mir was in the thick of the action with the likes of Andrea Dovizioso, Marc Marquez, Alex Rins, Cal Crutchlow and Danilo Petrucci.

"I learned a lot from all of them. I didn't expect to be fighting with such great riders," said Mir. "This is why I'm really happy."

The Spaniard, who arrives in MotoGP after just a single year in Moto2, blasted from eleventh to sixth on the opening lap of his first premier-class race.

"I was more excited than nervous. The first laps were really good. I was able to be strong and fast with the top guys.

"Then at the end it was a bit of a shame the tyre was completely finished. We thought that we could finish the race but it was not enough. The last two laps I was suffering a lot.

"But I'm happy. We were fighting with all of them."

Mir soaked up as much information as he could from the established riders and the most important lesson was clear.

"Save the tyre… Save the children, save the tyre!" he joked. "Save the tyre is the most important thing. Also how Dovi is able to manage a race, he is really good at doing this.

"I was there behind with all my senses [alert] to see what they were doing, what not, why they push, why they stop.

"I thought that I was saving the tyre, but sincerely inside of me I know that I could do it better. So I have to force a little bit more the front and conserve a little bit more the rear tyre.

"On the brakes you don't consume a lot the tyre. It's when you are on the gas. But now I know a bit the way that I have to follow and it's good."

During the race, two things became clear about this year's GSX-RR: It has incredible corner speed, but suffers badly on the straights with Rins and Mir falling often victim to the faster machines around them.

"Yeah, the top speed we missed a little bit," Mir said. "The Honda has made a good step forward, also the Ducati is really strong on the straight. The Suzuki is closer from last year to this year, but still a little bit more. So we are growing."

Mir crossed the line 5.0s from race winner Dovizioso and 4.5s from team-mate Rins, in fourth.

Quartararo finished as the next best rookie, ten seconds behind Mir in 16th place, after stalling on the warm-up lap.



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