Marc Marquez said he gave everything he had to fend off Valentino Rossi in the MotoGP season opener in Qatar, but was still overjoyed to manage a podium on his debut.
Despite dropping to eighth at the first corner, reigning Moto2 champion and Losail practice pacesetter Marquez was able to claw his way up to second place ahead of Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa.
Both would be overtaken by Rossi's recovering Yamaha, but Marquez briefly repassed the seven-time champion as he chased him to the finish. Rossi's teammate Jorge Lorenzo took a dominant win.
"I tried to push on the last lap, but Valentino was so strong," Marquez said. "I tried to battle with him but he's got a lot of experience. I could see that in how he rode the bike.
"I tried a lot, but in the end it's a dream come true to be here with those two guys."
Marquez added that he had quickly learned that he could not afford to give an inch in the top class.
"I started at 100 percent and I finished at 100 percent. No relaxing," he said. "Before the race I was a little bit nervous. First day in MotoGP is never easy. Then I saw it was important at the start and on the first lap to be aggressive with other riders."