Valentino Rossi may have missed out on a tenth 2008 MotoGP race victory during Sunday's Valencia season finale, but third place at least handed the Fiat Yamaha star his 16th podium in 18 rounds.
Rossi, crowned MotoGP world champion for the sixth time three rounds earlier in Japan, arrived at Valencia looking for revenge on a circuit where he lost the 2006 title and then second in the 2007 standings.
But the Fiat Yamaha star had struggled to find a good set-up for his M1 during qualifying and began the race just tenth on the grid. However some last-minute changes paid dividends and he was able to get a good start, climbing to seventh in the first lap and then making a characteristic charge through the field to move into third on lap six of 30.
From then on Rossi was unable to make a dent in the gap to second-placed Dani Pedrosa and he had to settle for the final podium position, 12 seconds off race winner Casey Stoner.
"I don't think that was so bad today!" shrugged Rossi. "Unfortunately we had some problems yesterday and that meant we had to start from the fourth row, which left us with a very difficult task.
"As always though we found a way and my team gave me a good bike, which meant I was able to get a great start and then have some fun passing people. Once I got to third there was no way to catch Dani and so it wasn't such an exciting race from then on."
The 29-year-old Italian finishes the year with nine wins, five seconds and two thirds, having surpassed the all-time premier class win record and the record for the most points in a season in the process. Rossi also helped Fiat Yamaha win the Teams' title and Yamaha the Manufacturers' title.
Rossi finished the 2008 season 93 points ahead of nearest rival Stoner, the equivalent to almost four race wins.
"This has been an amazing season for us and to finish with another podium, the 16th, is great and we cannot complain," he declared. "I am so happy with what we have done this year, as I said it's definitely one of my greatest championships and I want to thank everyone once again – Yamaha, my team, the engineers, Bridgestone and everyone who helped us to get this result."
"I think it would have been difficult to have done more than this today, because we were starting from the fourth row and the setting still wasn't perfect," confirmed team manager Davide Brivio. "Anyway it was a great end to the season and we scored another podium, making 16 in total, nine of them wins. We have the triple crown and this all makes it a fantastic season. Thank you very much to Valentino first of all and then all the engineers in Japan, who have worked so hard, and to all the team members for this huge effort."