A rejuvenating MotoGP season concluded as it had begun for Valentino Rossi at Valencia on Sunday.

Just as in the opening Qatar round, Rossi was the only rider to challenge the supremacy of reigning champion Marc Marquez. In the process, the Italian secured the title runner-up spot ahead of team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.

"I'm happy to finish this positive season with a good race, especially because Valencia is always difficult for me. I've struggled a lot in the past," said the Movistar Yamaha rider. "It was a good season for me. I enjoyed it. A lot of podiums, two victories and second place in the championship.

"After the first race in Qatar I thought I could be very competitive throughout the season but, f**k, maybe it is difficult to beat him (Marquez)! And in the end I was right, because I have a lot of points, a lot of podiums but just two victories and Marc has 13.

"So the difference is so big. We have to concentrate on myself, the team and especially the bike to try to take another step and be closer next year.

"My bad luck is called 'Marc Marquez', because without him I can win the championship and a lot of races," joked Rossi, who finished second to Marquez six times this year. "He did a fantastic job and won a lot of races. It's a great pleasure to fight with him, but we are not so far and we never give up and try to come closer."

Having qualified on his first MotoGP pole since 2010, Rossi and Marquez followed Andrea Iannone for the opening 10 of 30 laps, when both burst past the Ducati rider.

"I wasn't so far from Marc today, I felt good with the bike so I thought I can stay with him," Rossi said. "But unfortunately I had a problem with the right side of the tyre. We knew during practice and in the race the tyre suffered a lot. So on the right hand corners I lost time to Marc. Anyway it would have been difficult to win."

Intermittent rain kept nerves on edge throughout the race, with Rossi reeling Marquez back in whenever the moisture was at its heaviest. However unlike Lorenzo, both Marquez and Rossi resisted the temptation to pit for their spare bikes.

"Today the conditions were very, very difficult. The worst for a rider. It's dangerous, you can crash at every corner and it is very easy to make a mistake," said Rossi.

"I was in an easier position because Marquez was in front. So he had to understand the grip level. From behind it is a different situation. You have a small advantage because you think if he does not crash, I can go at the same speed!"

Nevertheless, Rossi admitted he was close to pulling in for a bike change.

"I thought a lot of times about coming in. The weather was the same from this morning, it would start to rain a little bit and then stop. It did the same in the warm-up. For this reason I decided to stay on the track but always concentrate to understand if the rain was getting heavier, because any more and you could crash on the straight.

"Sometimes it was very crazy because there was a lot of water on the visor, and we were on the edge of the slick tyres at 200km/h. You hope you made the right choice!"

Ultimately Rossi finished 3.5s behind Marquez and 11.5s ahead of the Spaniard's Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa.

Lorenzo retired when it became clear that the bike swap had been the wrong decision, ending his chances of taking second place in the world championship from Rossi.

Rossi finished the year with 13 podiums from 18 races and 295 points. It was his best season since winning his seventh and most recent title in 2009. Rossi had finished fourth overall in last year's comeback season with Yamaha.

While Marquez has been given Monday off by Honda, Rossi will join most of his rivals for the start of winter testing.

"Unfortunately not because I didn't win!" replied Rossi, when asked if he had been given the day off. "But anyway tomorrow I will go very slow!"



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