Valentino Rossi was described as an “idol” on Sunday as he closed the door on his career with a 10th-place finish at the season-ending Valencia MotoGP, won by Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia, appropriately one of the great Italian’s proteges.
The 42-year-old Rossi, a nine-time world champion across all categories, took all the applause from the 75,000 crowd as he rode an ovation lap in Valencia, which was his 432nd GP since starting his career back in 1996.
Jorge Martin, of the Ducati-Pramac team, and Jack Miller (Ducati) completed the podium at the 18th race of the season for a first ever Ducati podium sweep. Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo, who had already secured the world championship, finished fifth after a heavy fall in qualifying.
It was a fourth win of the season for Bagnaia, who came through the VR46 Academy created by Rossi
The 24-year-old finished the season 26 points behind Quartararo as runner-up in the title race.
He dominated the race but once former Brazilian footballer Ronaldo waved the chequered flag, all the attention turned to Rossi as the riders stopped to pay homage, fireworks went off and cries of “Vale, Vale” echoed around the stands.
His number 46 was everywhere, including on Bagnaia’s helmet and up in the stands of the…