Australian Remy Gardner was delighted after he finished strongly to end up fifth at the season-opening Moto2™ world championship event in Qatar on Monday (AEDT).
With the MotoGP™ activity cancelled last week due to the outbreak of coronavirus, the likes of Gardner and Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Tetsuta Nagashima took centre stage at the Losail International Circuit.
And it was Nagashima who claimed his first Grand Prix victory, holding off 2019 Qatar winner Lorenzo Baldassarri to win by 1.347 seconds.
Italtrans Racing Team’s Enea Bastianini (+1.428s) was third, with American Racing’s Joe Roberts (+1.559s) and Gardner (+1.901s) rounding out the top five.
A top-five finish looked beyond Gardner in the early stages but the Onexox TKKR Sag Team rider finished full of momentum in an encouraging performance.
“We had had good pace all weekend and in the test, so I was confident for the race,” Gardner said afterwards.
“We lost a lot of time in the first 10 laps and I dropped all the way down to 12th, but I never gave up and kept fighting and in the last few laps I thought we had a shot for the podium.
“One more lap and it could have been a trophy, but I can’t be unhappy with the work done.
“The team did a great job and it feels like a podium, even if it’s not.
“[I am] already looking forward to the next race, wherever it is and to pushing hard as ever.”
Gardner stood on the podium once in 2019 thanks to a second-placed finish in Argentina.
Thomas Luthi, who finished third in the 2019 Moto2™ world championship, was 10th fastest in Qatar.
Of the 29 riders in the field, 25 were classified, with less than nine seconds separating the top 10.
Officials have re-shuffled the 2020 MotoGP™, Moto2™ and Moto3™ calendar due to the spread of coronavirus, with the next race weekend set to take place in Austin in early April.