The combination of a super-fast Ducati, now fitted with holeshot devices at both the front and rear, plus some great braking allowed Jorge Martin to make the most specular start to a MotoGP career in recent memory.

The Pramac Ducati rider had qualified just 14th on the grid but gained a huge ten places by Turn 1, against the best riders in world, and briefly passed team-mate Johann Zarco for third place amidst an all-Desmosedici 1-2-3-4.

"I was a bit too nervous before the start," Martin revealed. "But anyway, the start was great! I never expected to be P4. I was expecting to overtake one row and be ninth or tenth.

"When I started to put the gears, I saw the bike was super-fast. Then I did a really great braking and overtook another 5 or 6 riders so I was in fourth. Then I overtook Zarco. I was a bit too enthusiastic in this moment! But I was third and it was nice to be there for two corners.

"On one side it was OK because it was good to be there, learning from the fast riders. But on the other hand, it wasn’t my place yet. I overheated a bit the tyre and then I paid for this at the end of the race.

"Hopefully in the future I can be up there for the race distance. But being with the group was great."

Martin held fourth place for the opening two laps, but then steadily fading backwards to a low of 16th place at mid-distance, just behind nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi.

The pair swapped places as they climbed back up the order, until Martin lost touch with the Italian and eventually crossed the finish line in 15th for the final point.

"Later I was battling with Valentino and he was my idol when I was young. I almost beat him but I had a moment five laps to go when I was in front of him. So that we good enough," Martin said.

"I’m happy. The team is happy. In this moment we just need to make laps, learn and improve.

"One thing I learned is in the first laps I need to be a bit more calm. Another is that I think we are missing in the exit of the corner. On the first part of the throttle I’m a bit late. I lose some metres there.

"The good thing is we are conscious of our problems and where we can improve. I’m really looking forward to the next race because I still have good pace I can put on track and I can fight for the top ten."

Enea Bastianini was the top rookie in tenth place with the other Avintia (GP19) Ducati of Luca Marini finishing 16th.

Free practice for the second Qatar round starts on Friday afternoon.

 

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