Valentino Rossi passed the last major milestone before the official end of his MotoGP career with an 'emotional' final home race at his local Misano circuit on Sunday.

While tenth place couldn't compare with his past victories at the circuit, it was a 'decent' result from 23rd and last on the grid.

That matched Rossi's best dry result of a difficult season as he overtook Petronas Yamaha team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, injured factory Yamaha rider Franco Morbidelli, Ducati wild-card Michele Pirro before passing KTM's Brad Binder on the final lap.

Ever the racer, Rossi was proud to have put on a fighting display to the chequered flag, but his finishing position was probably immaterial for the Covid-capacity 35,000 fans, most of whom were present simply to say farewell to The Doctor.

The yellow grandstands would have been left deflated had Rossi crashed out, but instead the Italian was able to soak up the applause and 'fantastic' atmosphere of his final Misano slow down lap.

"I'm very happy about today, especially because I did a decent race and it's the best way to say 'ciao'," Rossi said.

"I didn’t want to make a bad race and stay behind. Starting from the back of the grid is always difficult, but I knew my potential was better in the full dry [after a damp qualifying] and I felt good with the bike and tyres.

"I was able to make some overtaking and have some battles until the last lap.

"So it's the best way to say 'ciao' to all the crowd, because there was a fantastic atmosphere around the track and a lot of fans on Sunday. It was very emotional."


The 42-year-old showed his appreciation by throwing his final special helmet design, featuring a yellow heart, into the crowd, a gesture rarely seen during his racing career.

"I tried to enjoy this moment because a lot of my close friends said 'go out and enjoy because Sunday will be great'. Like a big hug from all the fans. But I also want to make a good race, ride at my maximum and try to have a good result," Rossi said.

"So I'm very happy especially for this and it was a great emotion after the flag, I enjoyed a lot."

Adding to the usual yellow Misano haze were special ‘Grazie Vale’ tributes, including a special bright yellow livery on the VR46 bikes of Rossi's brother Luca Marini plus Moto2 riders Marco Bezzecchi and Celestino Vietti.

"Usually I don’t like surprises, I want to know everything!" said Rossi. "But this was a great surprise. I'm very happy. I have to say thank you to Uccio all my team, and to Sky. I like a lot."

Finally, when Misano fans gather at the circuit 30 years from now and hear the name 'Valentino Rossi', what does the nine-time world champion hope they will remember?

"Misano is my home grand prix and my home circuit. It's 10 kilometres from my house and we are very lucky to have a circuit like this close to our house because we feel like home and it's not normal," Rossi replied.

"MotoGP raced in Misano from 2007, so not in all my career but I was able to win three times. Especially the last time in 2014 was great.

"So I hope that all the people remember this, all the good races, all the fights and all the enjoyment.

"I think a lot of fans followed MotoGP because they enjoyed a lot my races. So I hope a lot they remember these special moments, like today, because also today was good."

Just two more races, at Portimao and then Valencia, now remain before the end of Valentino Rossi's MotoGP career.