Valentino Rossi rode to third in a dramatic, shortened Qatar Grand Prix
A dramatic race was initially delayed by almost an hour due to moisture on the latter part of the track, which was predominantly dry.
Wet weather had seen Saturday’s qualifying session cancelled and grid positions decided based on practice times.
The seven-time world champion found himself in 10th place for the start and sliced his way up towards the front in the early stages.
But rookie Johann Zarco flew round the first six laps and into the lead before crashing out at Turn Two.
And while others struggled in the slippery conditions, Rossi was masterful and managed to nurse his Yamaha bike home in third behind pole-sitter Maverick Vinales and Andrea Dovizioso.
“For sure I’m pretty happy,” Rossi said.
The MotoGP field were delayed by nearly an hour at the Qatar Grand Prix
MotoGP: Johann Zarco ruins perfect debut by CRASHING out of lead
Maverick Vinales wins dramatic Qatar GP with Valentino Rossi third
“If I had to bet on myself to make the podium today I wouldn’t have bet. Or 10 euros or something.
“But we never gave up. We tried the maximum.
“We tried three or four different settings this morning but anyway it was bad, so I just said ‘go’.
“I don’t know what happened but I enjoyed it.
Valentino Rossi's Yamaha team-mate Maverick Vinales took victory
“I was good in braking and I hope this race will help us understand enough to improve.”
Defending world champion Marc Marquez finished third in the same race last year but could only manage fourth on his Honda machine, which appeared to be struggling for power at times.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Scott Redding brought his OCTO Pramac bike home in seventh unlike fellow countryman Cal Crutchlow who crashed twice before retiring after just four laps.