Though arguably somewhat overshadowed by the fact he will be replaced at Ducati by Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner was another to be bidding an emotional farewell at the end of the Valencia Grand Prix ahead of his switch to Honda.

The Australian started his final race for the Italian manufacturer from pole position, but was hunted down and passed by champion Jorge Lorenzo, leaving him to settle for second position.

Bringing an end to a four-year stint that took in 23 race wins - including three in a 2010 season in which he struggled initially -, Stoner was disappointed not to sign off with a further victory, but refused to let it spoil his leaving celebrations.

"We had a big decision to make in terms of the tyre choice today but we went for the hard compound and maybe in hindsight it cost us. It is difficult to say because maybe the softer option wouldn't have worked as well in the final stages so we could have ended up second either way.

"At the end of the day Jorge had a better pace than us today and there wasn't much more we could have done. It is nice to bring this era to a close on the podium and I think that is fitting.

"I have so many great memories of these past few years with Ducati, from my first win at Qatar in 2007 and that race in Barcelona the same year, to the title success at Motegi and my wins at Phillip Island. I also especially remember my return to action in Portugal last year.

"I have enjoyed every single victory on the Ducati so much and I want to thank them for so many great years together. I leave behind a lot of people that I will miss, like Filippo, Vitto and the others but even though we will be rivals on the track from now on our personal relationship will stay the same. I also want to thank all the Ducati fans for their support over these past four years."

Stoner will join Dani Pedrosa in the Repsol Honda team in 2011.



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