Northern Ireland’s Eugene Laverty matched his best MotoGP result with an excellent ride to 12th in Sunday night’s opening round of the 2016 world championship in Qatar.
The Toomebridge man endured an injury-hit pre-season but put it all behind him to make a confidence-boosting start to the new campaign on the Ducati GP14.2 under the floodlights at the Losail International Circuit.
Laverty, who previously finished 12th in Catalunya during his rookie season in the premier class in 2015 on the Open class Honda, said: “We made big progress here compared to pre-season. Suddenly on Saturday we had a big breakthrough and today we achieved a positive result.
“I had a problem at the start with a bit of wheelspin off the line because I was on a dirty part of the track and then on lap one Loris Baz ran me wide off the track.
“So it was a disastrous start, but after that we managed to come back well. I think we can go to Argentina now to fight for the top ten.”
Reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha) made the perfect start to his title defence with a brilliant win by two seconds from Ducati’s Andrea Iannnone, who only just held off Marc Marquez on the Repsol Honda.
Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi was a close fourth ahead of Dani Pedrosa (Honda) and Maverick Vinales (Suzuki).