The 2009 MotoGP title may have already been decided in Valentino Rossi's favour, but the final round of the season at Valencia will still witness numbers of scores to settle, a few farewells and one very special debutant.
Third place in the Malaysian Grand Prix was all Rossi needed to clinch a ninth world title, the Italian staving off the attentions of young Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo to add to his trophy collection.
Nonetheless, while the popular Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo circuit won't play host to the title decider, there is still much to be disputed right down to the wire.
First and foremost, Lorenzo is still under threat for his runners-up spot in the standings, although the Spaniard needs just a single point on home ground to ensure a 1-2 result for Yamaha.
Should he retire from the race though, Ducati's Casey Stoner could be primed to snatch the position off him. The Australian has been in outstanding form since returning from illness, winning the last two races at Phillip Island and Sepang to move himself 25 points behind Lorenzo. While it will take some fate to snatch the position off Lorenzo, Stoner – who won at Valencia last season – is still well placed to at least hold his end of the bargain.
Stoner himself remains under pressure though, from fourth place Dani Pedrosa, who, after finishing second in Malaysia, heads to his home event brimming with confidence. A multiple winner on grand prix machinery at Valencia – including two years ago in MotoGP -, Pedrosa is just eleven points adrift of Stoner in the standings.
Naturally, Rossi is also likely to be in the hunt for race victory, although he freely admits the circuit hasn't been so kind to both himself and the Yamaha team in the past. Indeed, the 30 year old has won twice in 2003 and 2004 but also lost the title to Nicky Hayden when he crashed three years ago. The master of mind games will want to end his Championship year with a victory just to let the chasing trio know what lies ahead in 2010.
Battles further down the field remain similarly close, with fifth in the standings being disputed by Andrea Dovizioso and Colin Edwards. Having won his maiden race with Repsol Honda this season, Dovizioso is determined not to lose out to a satellite rider, but the ultra consistent Edwards remains poised four points behind on the Tech 3 Yamaha.
Things are even closer further back as any one of six riders could still finish seventh in the standings. Covering seventh down to 12th position, just seven points split Marco Melandri, Loris Capirossi, Alex de Angelis, Toni Elias, Chris Vermeulen and Randy de Puniet. Even Nicky Hayden in 13th is still mathematically able to catapult himself up the order.