The Grand Prix had been delayed by nearly an hour due to some moisture on the circuit in the last three corners and there were farcical scenes on the grid as riders and team officials argued with race organisers about whether to get underway.
When it was eventually started, race distance was shortened to 20 laps and riders were allowed two warm-up laps to get used to the conditions with local time approaching 10pm in Lusail.
Johann Zarco was in the lead when he crashed at Turn Two of the Qatar Grand Prix
Zarco's grid position was defined by his times in practice after Saturday's qualifying session was cancelled and he started in fourth, on the second row of the grid.
Defending champion Marc Marquez meanwhile was on row one in third while legendary 38-year-old rider Valentino Rossi started in 10th.
Johann Zarco was distinctly glum after crashing on his MotoGP debut
The Doctor sliced through the field quickly but it was the rookie Frenchman Zarco who also produced a brilliantly racy start to hit the front within one lap of his MotoGP debut.
However, he lost his bike at Turn Two and careered into the gravel with 14 laps remaining.
Maverick Vinales converted his pole into a win at the Qatar Grand Prix
Last year's Moto2 champion walked towards his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 disconsolately although he has already shown enough to suggest his rookie year will be one to watch.
The race was evenutally won by Maverick Vinales who had been sitting on pole with Andrea Dovizioso in second and Rossi in third.
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Zarco did however set the fastest circuit in lap four, a mark that remained until the end of the race to give the rookie something to take away from Qatar.