Marc Marquez won the MotoGP season opener in Qatar on Sunday after a titanic battle with Valentino Rossi.
The Spaniard held off the strong challenge of the Movistar Yamaha rider, despite having broken his leg in a training accident in February, to secure success in the opening Grand Prix.
Rossi’s team-mate Jorge Lorenzo – the 2013 Championship runner-up – disappointingly crashed out on his front end going into turn 15 on the opening lap.
The lead changed hands numerous times at the Losail International Circuit but it was the 21-year-old Repsol Honda rider who emerged victorious, crossing the line just 0.259secs ahead of the Italian.
"I enjoyed it. I did not think about the injury," said Marquez. "Last year he won, this year I won. I'm happy.
"On the lap before the last we overtook each other two or three times which was so nice."
Rossi had begun the Qatar GP on the fourth row, back in 10th place, but a series of falls and impressive overtaking saw him sitting in the front three at the midway stage.
The Italian led heading into the final few laps but Marquez was in no mood to taste defeat and his determination was evident during the win.
The Spaniard’s compatriot and Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa completed the podium with a solid ride, finishing well ahead of fourth-placed Aleix Espargaro.
Britons Bradley Smith, Cal Crutchlow and Scott Redding had mixed results from what was an eventful race.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Smith crashed out when sitting third - a feat also managed by Alvaro Bautista later in the race – and his team-mate Pol Espargaro also failed to finish because of a mechanical fault.
Crutchlow and Redding finished sixth and seventh but the former’s Ducati also experienced technical problems as it crept over the finishing line.
Marquez will be delighted with his opening victory as the championship now moves on to the Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin, Texas on April 13.