Starting from seventh on the grid, the Anglo-American made a strong start and was up to fourth by the first corner. He then passed Nicky Hayden to move in to third place on lap four, behind Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa.

Hopkins tried to chase down the two in front of him, but the gap was already too large and he had to settle for a race against the clock as he was never troubled by another rider for the remaining laps.

An emotional Hopkins eventually crossed the line with his front wheel high in the air to celebrate his best-ever result at Valencia, his fourth podium of the season and fourth overall in the 2007 riders' world championship.

"I have just got to thank everyone at Suzuki - that is my first and foremost task," said Hopper, who will race for Kawasaki next season. "To every member at Suzuki I want to pass on my ultimate thanks to them, Suzuki has given me my life in MotoGP and established my career and I just cannot show enough gratitude to them.

"Today the tyres and the bike worked awesome and I just went for it from the beginning!" he recalled. "I got a good start and then got around Nicky Hayden, but from there it was a pretty lonely race. I just had to push myself against the clock and make sure I pulled away from the riders behind me. I succeeded in that but it was very emotional on the last few laps with that comfort and I had to concentrate real hard to keep focused!

"It's a great result because my Mum, sister, fianc?e and her family are all here today so it was an unbelievable feeling when I crossed the line - it was a great way to end the year. I would have liked to have put the bike on the top step for Rizla Suzuki and especially all my crew, but that's for Dani and the home fans today!

"I just want to say thanks once again, it's been a fantastic five years and I've had a top time, now I just want to take it all in tonight and have a good time with the boys!" he concluded.

Hopkins finished his most successful season in MotoGP two points ahead of Marco Melandri and ten points clear of team-mate Chris Vermeulen, who fought his way up from 12th on lap one to sixth at the finish.

"I felt like I had the speed to run with John, but he had a much better advantage after the first few laps," said Chris. "We finished sixth in the end and sixth in the championship, it's been a good season and we have improved a lot this year. We have a number of new things coming so it looks like being a very exciting future.

"I'd like to thank everybody for their help this year especially my crew and Chief Technician Tom O'Kane, and congratulations to John on his third place today. It's been a great two years working with him and it will be sad to see him go. I wish him good luck next year and hope he does well - as long as we beat him!" added the Aussie.

"I am really happy with the end result today for the whole team, and especially for John who has been loyal, hard working and has always given 100% during his five seasons with Suzuki," declared team manager Paul Denning.

"During the last two years we have given him massively improved equipment and that has enabled him to take big steps forward. Today he gave everything for us and thoroughly deserved his podium, and to finish his Suzuki career on a high. On behalf of the whole team I would like to thank him for some great times on and off the track and we all wish him well in the future - he'll certainly be missed!

"Chris's potential was to fight with John for a podium position, but it's difficult to come from 12th on the first lap and get past the quality of riders that are out there on this type of circuit. However, as always he raced aggressively and maintained lap-times right till the end, and only missed fourth place by a second.

"Suzuki did not win the world championship this season, but we have to put that into context with the starting point from 2005 and 2006 and I believe Rizla Suzuki as a team, Suzuki as a factory and all Suzuki fans worldwide can be proud of our achievements. We are the only manufacturer not to suffer a mechanical breakdown in any race this year, both riders finished in the top-six of the championship and we missed second in the team's championship by only one point. This is a solid position to move forward from and I want to thank every single person involved in the project for their commitment, hard work and efforts."

Loris Capirossi will replace Hopkins at Suzuki next season.