Maverick Vinales became the first ever winner of a Moto3 race in Qatar after a tough battle with world championship newcomer Romano Fenati.
Last year's Italian 125cc runner-up Fenati blasted into the lead from sixth on the grid at the start, while pre-season title favourite Vinales dropped back to fourth. The Spaniard - hotly-tipped for 2012 after winning four 125cc races in his rookie season at world level in '11 - soon fought through to join Fenati at the front, as they broke away from the rest of the field.
Vinales (Avintia) bided his time behind Fenati (Italia FMI) until lap six, when he swept past into Turn 1. He could not shake Fenati off at first, and would have to relinquish the lead again as the young Italian retaliated on lap 10.
But Vinales drafted back ahead two laps later, and after that started to storm away, eventually beating Fenati to victory by 4.3 seconds.
A massive battle for third showed that Moto3 will produce racing just as spectacular as its 125cc predecessor had. Polesitter Sandro Cortese eventually grabbed the final podium spot for the Ajo team, but only after an epic side by side pack race with Luis Salom (RW), Miguel Oliveira (Monlau), Ajo trio Zulfahmi Khairuddin, Arthur Sissis and Denny Kent, and Team Germany's Louis Rossi.
Monlau's highly-regarded Spanish newcomer Alex Rins beat fellow world-level rookie Alan Techer (Technomag-CIP) and veteran Aspar rider Hector Faubel to 10th.
Results - 18 laps:
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time/Gap
1. Maverick Vinales Avintia FTR-Honda 38m40.995s
2. Romano Fenati Italia FMI FTR-Honda + 4.301s
3. Sandro Cortese Ajo KTM + 18.013s
4. Luis Salom RW Kalex-KTM + 18.200s
5. Miguel Oliveira Monlau Suter-Honda + 18.745s
6. Zulfahmi Khairuddin Ajo KTM + 19.052s
7. Arthur Sissis Ajo KTM + 19.466s
8. Danny Kent Ajo KTM + 21.098s
9. Louis Rossi Germany FTR-Honda + 21.153s
10. Alex Rins Monlau Suter-Honda + 28.733s
11. Alan Techer Technomag-CIP TSR-Honda + 29.775s
12. Hector Faubel Aspar Kalex-KTM + 29.813s
13. Niklas Ajo TT Motion KTM + 35.940s
14. Alberto Moncayo Aspar Kalex-KTM + 35.983s
15. Jakub Kornfeil Ongetta FTR-Honda + 38.641s
16. Efren Vazquez Laglisse Honda + 40.219s
17. Niccolo Antonelli Gresini Honda + 50.629s
18. Danny Webb Mahindra + 54.751s
19. Ivan Moreno Laglisse FTR-Honda + 54.989s
20. Adrian Martin Laglisse Honda + 1m05.183s
21. Kenta Fujii Technomag-CIP TSR Honda + 1m21.239s
22. Simone Grotzkyj Ambrogio Oral + 1m35.791s
23. Toni Finsterbusch MZ Honda + 1m41.291s
24. Jasper Iwema FGR Honda + 1m54.293s
25. Jack Miller Caretta Honda + 1 lap
Jonas Folger Ioda 11 laps
Luigi Morciano Ioda 7 laps
Brad Binder RW Kalex-KTM 6 laps
Marcel Schrotter Mahindra 5 laps
Alexis Masbou Caretta Honda 0 laps
Alessandro Tonucci Italia FMI FTR-Honda 0 laps
Isaac Vinales Ongetta FTR-Honda 0 laps