Valentino Rossi's hopes of securing the runner-up spot in the championship ended in the unluckiest of fashions today, when a technical issue brought the injured Italian's race to a premature end in Valencia. His Fiat Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards also had a disappointing race and finished 13th in his final race for the Factory Team, after starting from 15th.
Having broken three bones in his hand after crashing in qualifying yesterday, Rossi bravely decided to race, his 192nd consecutive start since his 125cc debut in 2006. Forced to start from 17th after completing only five laps in qualifying, he needed to finish 15th or higher in order to secure second place in the championship from Pedrosa, who started on pole. By mid-race distance he had gone one better, having passed Anthony West, Shinya Nakano and Makoto Tamada to take 14th. However on lap 18 Rossi ran into unexpected problems with his bike and he was forced to retire, only able look on as Pedrosa went on to win the race and take the championship runner-up spot by just one point.Edwards meanwhile had made up three places from his starting position to 12th, but was limited by a lack of grip and unable to make any headway to the next group of riders. A late battle with Carlos Checa however, who was riding in his last MotoGP race, went the way of the Spaniard and Edwards was forced to settle for 13th across the line and ninth place in the championship on his Fiat Yamaha farewell.
Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing, commented after the race, "This final race has been a very disappointing end to a long and hard season. I feel very sorry that our machine failed Valentino today and denied him the second place in the championship that he surely deserved. His ride today with a broken hand showed his fighting spirit and his passion for racing. Colin's last race for the Yamaha Factory Team was also a disappointing end to his season. I would like to anyway thank Colin for his commitment to Yamaha and for his great teamwork during the last three years. We also look forward to having him in the Yamaha family as our next-door neighbor in 2008. Last but not least I would like to thank all members of the Factory Team and the Yamaha MotoGP staff for their tireless dedication and commitment all year long. We will now put our full focus on next year. We have a lot of work ahead of us in order to come back stronger and faster and to return to winning ways for the 2008 MotoGP World Championship."
Colin Edwards, Position: 13thTime: +46.572, "There's really nothing to say about today so I'll just leave that be! It was my last race with the Factory Team and everyone knows I wanted a better goodbye than this, but there was little I could do today. I'm very thankful to everyone in this team for the last three years, which have without doubt been some of the most memorable of my racing career. A huge thanks to Yamaha, to Michelin and to everyone in the team; it's been great fun. I'm very glad I'm staying with Yamaha and now I'm just looking forward to getting started with the new bike!"
Valentino Rossi, Position: DNF Time: 11 Laps, "I have no words. For sure, after today, I can say that it's not just a matter of misfortune. I did everything I could in order to be on the grid today, because I wanted to try and confirm my second place in the championship, which I think I deserved. I was riding very fast, even though my bike was not perfect. When I got into 14th place, I told myself that my task was done, but I was feeling quite good and I wanted to try to pass some more riders. Unfortunately however I felt that I had a problem with my bike and I was forced to come in. Now we are checking the data to understand what happened, because at the moment it's not so clear. I will need 20 days to fix my hand and then I will be back in Jerez to start my winter testing programme. I'd like to thank Claudio Costa and Marco Montanari, as well as everyone at the Clinica Mobile, because they made a great effort with my hand to enable me to race today."