Repsol Honda have matched their best start to a MotoGP season opener in Qatar since 2016 after claiming a double top five with Pol Espargaro and Marc Marquez. 

Following a stunning launch off the line, Marquez and Espargaro headed into turn one with a 1-2, which remained the case for several laps thereafter. 

Although the order changed as Espargaro made his way past his eight-time world champion team-mate before the end of lap one, the potential of the new RC213V was very apparent throughout. 

Similarly to Jorge Martin last year, Espargaro led over three quarters of race distance - 17 of the 22 laps in total - and could have fought for victory had he not made a mistake after immediately being overtaken by eventual race winner Enea Bastianini. 

Espargaro managed to salvage a podium after losing second spot to Brad Binder due to his mistake at turn one, while Marquez came home fifth after being relegated from fourth by Aleix Espargaro during the final few laps. 

All in all, it’s a result that matches 2016 when Marquez finished third and Dani Pedrosa fifth, and one where Team Manager Alberto Puig says 'motivation' to go even better is 'very high'. 

Puig said: "Our understanding is that we had a good start, our riders are happy and we now have some points to improve after the first race with this new bike. 

"Compared to previous years, we can say that we are much happier as a group and it’s important that our riders are fit and we have a new bike. 

"This bike is going to keep developing, of course, with everyone inside HRC and the Repsol Honda Team working to keep improving. The motivation is very high after this positive start to the season."

Although it was an impressive start by the team and its revolutionised 2022 package, Marquez didn’t seem himself during the race and was unable to push the front end of his machine.

Puig also concluded that this was holding him back despite making what he believed was the correct front tyre choice. 

"I think Marc’s tyre choice was the correct one, going with the soft," continued Puig: "Unfortunately, he missed a bit of grip on the front and he made the decision to stop pushing to avoid any extra risks. 

"He did a clever race honestly; he knows what is needed and he knew that in this situation taking points in fifth was the best decision. 

"Of course, if he had a different feeling with the bike he would have attacked more – this is his character. 

"What he achieved today is good for us, he is here with us, with a good feeling overall and is preparing for the next race. This is the longest season in MotoGP history, 21 races."