There was no parting glory to be enjoyed for Valentino Rossi and Ducati at Valencia as inclement weather conditions contributed to the Yamaha-bound rider finishing a lap down on winner Dani Pedrosa in tenth position.
The Italian had been eyeing a strong conclusion to his somewhat unhappy two-year spell at Ducati before he returns to Yamaha in 2013, but struggles in qualifying preluded an equally tough race day.
Starting in 11th, Rossi started well in the damp conditions, his treaded tyres allowing him to get as high as third position initially. However, when it became clear that slick tyres were the optimum choice as the circuit dried, Rossi was forced to pit within five laps.
Dropping towards the rear of the field, Rossi made minor progress on the track but benefitted from crashes for Jorge Lorenzo, Cal Crutchlow and Stefan Bradl ahead to sneak a tenth place finish, albeit a lap down on Pedrosa and behind three CRT bikes.
“It's really a shame that the last race with Ducati finished this way. Things went well this morning in the wet warm-up, and in similar conditions, it would have been possible to do a nice result. Instead, this half-and-half situation was truly difficult. In the end the right choice was to use the slick tyres, but my bike on the grid had a very different setting from the other one, so I didn't feel like switching.
“With the rain tyres, I felt fine at first, but then when it was necessary to switch, the situation became more complicated. There was a thin dry line, but I couldn't put the bike where I wanted and as soon as I would go off that line, it was very risky. I could only try to finish.
Briefly reflecting on his two seasons with Ducati, which yielded three podiums and sixth in the overall 2012 standings – an improvement on the seventh he managed in 2011 -, Rossi says he is sad to be leaving on a quiet note.
“I would have liked to finish these two years with Ducati better. They were two difficult seasons, but I nonetheless leave behind many people that I enjoyed working with, and with whom it was nice to go racing.”
All eyes are now trained on Rossi's much anticipated first outing with Yamaha when post-season testing at Valencia gets underway this week.