A DOMINANT display by world champion Jorge Lorenzo saw the Spaniard win the 2013 season opener at Qatar, while Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi unleashed some of the old magic to take second.
Marc Marquez on the Repsol Honda took the remaining podium spot in his very first MotoGP race, ahead of team-mate and fellow Spaniard Dani Pedrosa.
Lorenzo, on pole, led from start to finish and crossed the line six seconds clear of the rest. But all eyes were on Rossi, returning to Yamaha after two years of drought with Ducati, and starting the race from a less-than-impressive seventh place.
When he lost his line and ran wide attempting to overtake Andrea Dovizioso early in the race, it seemed that the nine-time world champion's fortunes had not turned - but Rossi proved his naysayers wrong with a commanding display to work his way back up through the pack and reel in the Repsol Hondas to take second place.
Briton Cal Crutchlow, starting from second on the grid, finished fifth on his Monster Yamaha, while the Ducatis of Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden could only manage seventh and eighth positions. Bradley Smith crashed out on debut.
Rossi said: 'I’m more than happy, very happy indeed because it was my dream to come back with Yamaha.
To arrive on the podium at the first race was my target from November and I put all my effort to arrive at the maximum here.
It was a difficult weekend, especially yesterday in qualifying, but I knew I had great pace so I tried to recover in the beginning but I made a mistake and I lost time. I had to do a great second part of the race and step by step I came close to my podium.
In the end there was a great battle, especially with Marc for the second place. I’m so happy for me, for my team, for my friends and all my fans who stay with me through two difficult years and also for Yamaha, to start the season with first and second place is not so bad!'
MotoGP race results from Qatar
1. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha Factory Racing 42m 39.802s
2. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha Factory Racing 42m 45.792s
3. Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 42m 46.003s
4. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 42m 49.275s
5. Cal Crutchlow (UK) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 42m 58.566s
6. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Go&Fun Honda Gresini 43m 1.950s
7. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati Team 43m 4.157s
8. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Team 43m 4.722s
9. Andrea Iannone (ITA) Energy T.I. Pramac Racing 43m 16.926s
10. Ben Spies (USA) Ignite Pramac Racing 43m 24.710s
11. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Power Electronics Aspar 43m 29.611s
12. Randy De Puniet (FRA) Power Electronics Aspar 43m 36.297s
13. Hector Barbera (SPA) Avintia Blusens 43m 49.401s
14. Yonny Hernandez (COL) Paul Bird Motorsport 43m 50.544s
15. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Avintia Blusens 43m 53.402s
16. Claudio Corti (ITA) NGM Forward Racing 44m 9.246s
17. Michael Laverty (UK) Paul Bird Motorsport 44m 14.143s
18. Lukas Pesek (CZE) Came Ioda Racing Project 44m 14.485s
Colin Edwards (USA) NGM Forward Racing
Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Came Ioda Racing Project
Stefan Bradl (GER) LCR Honda
Bradley Smith (UK) Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Bryan Staring (AUS) Go&Fun Honda Gresini
Karel Abraham (CZE) Cardion AB Motoracing