Andrea Dovizioso came into his final race as a Honda grand prix rider knowing he needed to beat team-mate Dani Pedrosa in front of his home fans to secure third in the World Championship.
Pedrosa missed three races due to injury this season, but was only four points behind Dovizioso heading into the Valencia finale.
The odds looked stacked in Pedrosa's favour, being a former double MotoGP winner at the track and starting from second on the grid. Dovizioso meanwhile had suffered a heavy fall on his way to eighth in qualifying.
But Dovizioso delivered the kind of race his former great rival Marco Simoncelli would have been proud of, diving past Pedrosa at every opportunity in order to prevent the Spaniard exploiting his speed.
And although both lost out to Ben Spies when the spots of rain intensified during the closing laps, Pedrosa suffered the most - dropping back to fifth, while Dovizioso rode to a safe third behind Spies and Casey Stoner.
“I'm so happy with third place in the Championship, it's a great achievement born from a lot hard work throughout the year," smiled Dovizioso. "Before arriving here I knew I only had a few opportunities to arrive in front of Dani, because he has been always so fast here.
"Dani was faster than me also in this race weekend so I had to make a good strategy to beat him. Considering that I had a soft front tyre, I knew I couldn't push hard for 30 laps, I tried to stop him when I was in front of him, then every time he overtook me, I tried to pass him immediately.
"It was a good battle and with the rain at coming with 7-8 laps to go, I wanted to push harder for the win because I'm good in these tricky conditions however, third position in the Championship was too important so I decided not to take any additional risks.
"Thanks to my team for these three years spent together, I'm very pleased to finish my career at Honda with third in the Championship, my best result so far in MotoGP. On the final lap I thought of Marco and in the end I succeeded here on a track where I have always struggled. Marco helped me in this challenging mission, Ciao Marco”.
Dovizioso, a Honda grand prix rider since 2002 in the 125cc class, will join Tech 3 Yamaha for next season.