Jorge Lorenzo became the highest ranked MotoGP rookie since team-mate Valentino Rossi's runner-up finish in the 2000 500ccc World Championship, by securing fourth in the final 2008 rankings - despite a disappointing season finale at Valencia.
After struggling for grip on Saturday, Lorenzo started from seventh on the grid and things got worse as the race got underway. He was unable to find a rhythm and slipped to eleventh until mid-race distance. From then on he began to improve and he was able to make up three places, finishing strongly and setting his fastest lap of the race on the 30th and final lap.
“I feel a bit disappointed with this result today because I really wanted to finish the season with a podium, but in the end we couldn't manage it here," said Jorge. "We had some problems though so I have to be happy that I was able to finish the race strongly, passing people and doing my best lap of the race on the last lap, especially when you consider that yesterday in qualifying I was the slowest on race tyres!"
Nevertheless, the Spaniard's first season in MotoGP has seen him win a race and take a further five podiums and four pole positions, helping Yamaha to secure the Team and Manufacturers' titles to add to Rossi's Riders' World Championship.
Lorenzo took the rookie of the year title by 16 points from JiR Team Scot's Andrea Dovizioso, despite missing the Catalan Grand Prix due to injury.
"The best thing about today is that I am the leading rookie, so I get a trophy all the same and this makes me very proud of my first season in MotoGP with Yamaha," said Lorenzo, following his last race with Michelin tyres. "I want to thank all of my team, engineers and everyone who has helped us. I also have to say a special thank you to Michelin for their work this season because this is our last race with them. I am very proud that I was able to win my first MotoGP race with them."
Lorenzo will make his Bridgestone debut with an early version of next year's YZR-M1 during testing on Monday and Tuesday.
"Tomorrow we begin straight away to work on the 2009 bike and I am very excited to try it," he said.