A year on from claiming a surprise maiden Moto2 victory at Valencia, Michele Pirro's return to the Spanish circuit as a fully-fledged MotoGP rider produced yet another career milestone as he notched up the first top five finish for a CRT machine.
Competing in his final race for Gresini ahead of becoming Ducati's official test rider, Pirro's year on the Honda-powered FTR CRT machine has yielded positive results, even if he has struggled to match the pace of the relatively dominant Aspar ARTs.
However, with tricky weather conditions helping to negate the speed disadvantage the CRT bikes suffer against the full MotoGP machines, Pirro's decision to start on slick tyres would see him soar through the order at the expense of those forced to pit ahead.
Capitalising on a handful of retirements ahead, Pirro's shrewd tyre choice would be rewarded with a remarkable fifth place at the finish line, a big improvement on his previous best of ninth at Assen and lowering the a former best of eighth for a CRT bike.
A benchmark result at the end of the first season to include CRT machine, Pirro was thrilled to conclude his time at Gresini with a MotoGP top five.
“What a fantastic day! To finish fifth and as the top CRT, with the best CRT result of the season, is wonderful. It wasn't an easy race but we tried to push our best and take a few risks. Like last year when I won the Moto2 race I could feel Marco's hand on my shoulder, giving me a push, and I feel this is a fitting way to say good bye to Team Gresini.
“The past two years with them have been very important for my career so I want to thank each and every member. The memories of our victory together here at Valencia last year and this fantastic result today will stay with us forever and it has been wonderful to write a small chapter in the history of this great championship. Thanks everybody.”