For the second race in succession, Valentino Rossi found himself locked in an intense battle with countryman Andrea Iannone, at Sunday's Valencia MotoGP.

Ross got the upper hand at Sepang, where Iannone fell, but it would be the Ducati rider who emerged with the final podium place at the season finale - won by Rossi's Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.

"I'm not happy to lose the podium and it was a very tough race, but also a good race," began Rossi, who crossed the finish line just one-second behind Iannone. "I enjoyed it a lot. We did a lot of battles."

The pair exchanged second place behind Lorenzo from laps 5-8. Rossi then gained the advantage during the middle stages of the race, but was unable to escape. "I was able to overtake Iannone and stay some laps in second place, but unfortunately I wasn't fast enough to take some margin. So we restart the fight," Rossi said.

Iannone attacked again on lap 17 of 30, with world champion Marc Marquez passing them both soon after. Further passes between Iannone and Rossi followed before the outgoing Ducati rider secured his place on the podium.

"Marquez was a lot faster in the second half of the race, so no way to stay with him, and after we do the battle with Iannone.

When you fight with Iannone is not easy and you have to do like this [makes cross sign and puts hands together as if praying]! Sincerely speaking, was a hard fight but we never touch, is okay.

"I think he was very aggressive with me, but also I was very aggressive with him. Everybody played their card. I pushed a lot on the right hand corners, because I was stronger, so I played my card but unfortunately at the end I was in too much trouble also on the right side of the tyre.

"I tried everything but unfortunately Iannone was faster and in fact in the last lap he did a very good lap time and was better than me.

"So at the end I just finish fourth. But it was a good race. Valencia is always difficult and we tried everything, but was not enough for the podium. Anyway it is a positive season and from Tuesday we start the next one."

Title runner-up Rossi will be back on track alongside new Movistar Yamaha team-mate Maverick Vinales when the post-season test starts on Tuesday.

By Peter McLaren


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