The Qatar MotoGP was not short of surprises but Brad Binder's second place for KTM was arguably as big a shock - some might say even bigger - than Enea Bastianini's debut victory for the Gresini Ducati team.

While Bastianini was a force to be reckoned with during testing, and the GP21 a winner of seven races last season, on paper KTM had the least impressive winter results of any manufacturer.

The RC16 only made one top eight appearance over five days in Sepang and  Mandalika, as the Austrian factory regrouped technically from a hit-and-miss 2021.

Add in the fact that Binder and KTM had never finished higher than eighth at Lusail and few would have predicted the South African could cross the finish line just 0.346s from victory.

Eight-time world champion Marc Marquez kept close tabs on the performance of the orange machine until the South African made a late surge with six laps to go.

"It's the bike I understand the least," Marquez said of Binder's KTM. "I understand Bastianini, the way that he rides. But Binder was like… each lap was different.

"I mean one lap he was going in [to the corners] very fast, another lap he was going in slower but exiting very fast.

"So still KTM, particularly behind Binder, I didn't understand. But they have a good engine, he was stopping the bike a lot with the rear tyre also, and he was very fast at the end of the race."

Marquez went on to finish in fifth place, 4.099s behind Bastianini and 2.7s from Repsol Honda team-mate Pol Espargaro, who led much of the grand prix before eventually completing the podium.

While the KTM remains something of a mystery, and the first race is "always special", Marquez has already seen enough to believe that Bastianini and Espargaro will be championship contenders.

"The first race is always special and particularly here in Qatar," Marquez said. "It's a race track where we always see at some different results.

"Last year here Maverick and Quartararo were very fast [12th and 9th on Sunday], Zarco was very fast and then in the season he was not fast enough.

"But I believe that I saw two guys today, which was Bastianini and Pol Espargaro, they were fast and they will be contenders for the championship."

Round two takes place in Mandalika next weekend, where Espargaro was fastest in pre-season testing.