Casey Stoner concluded a stunning MotoGP
career with third place in Sunday's wet/dry Valencia season finale.
The 27-year-old Australian announced back in May that he would retire at the end of this season, regardless of whether he claimed a third world title.
Ankle injuries in August, for which Stoner required surgery and missed three races, ended his 2012 chances. However the Repsol Honda star returned to claim a dream sixth successive home win at Phillip Island.
Poor weather at Valencia worked against his hopes of a 39th and final MotoGP
win, but Stoner - who had qualified third in the dry - rose from 16th after a pit stop to swap bikes and overtook Alvaro Bautista for third place on the penultimate lap.
As he took the chequered flag for the final time, the Repsol Honda team gathered on the pit wall with a pit board saying “Going Fishing” - a message Stoner also wore on his leathers.
“Considering everything that happened today, we're very happy with a podium,” said Stoner, who was the highest placed rider to pit during the actual race.
“We used up all our weather luck at Phillip Island I think. This weekend the weather has been terrible and I've been riding tense in the damp and wet.
“I just didn't want to take any risks of crashing and damaging my ankle again so I was very cautious and this isn't how I like to ride. Even with the choice of going with the wets, not the slick tyres at the beginning of the race, I took the easy option which really isn't me.
“When I saw the slicks had a big advantage, we came in and changed bikes and went back out and pushed as hard as we could, without taking unnecessary risks. In the end we were able to chase down Alvaro and take the last spot on the podium in our last race.
“I'm not an emotional person, but I was just trying to soak everything in on the slowdown lap.
“It's a little strange not to be involved with testing for next year now, but it's also a big weight off my shoulders. I can take a bit of time to enjoy life and it's something that I'm really looking forward to.