Jorge Lorenzo claimed his third MotoGP world championship by hanging on to record victory in a tense final round at Valencia.
Lorenzo held his nerve under immense pressure to take the win and the crown as title rival Valentino Rossi narrowly missed out on the championship despite an admirable ride from the back of the grid to fourth.
The factory Yamaha rider was never allowed to relax with the Honda duo of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa hunting the Spaniard, before settling for second and third at the flag.
Lorenzo’s victory saw him overturn Rossi’s seven point championship lead to become only the third rider to turn around a points deficit to win the championship in a title decider.
Hampered by the grid penalty for the Sepang clash with Marquez, Rossi fell just five points shy of securing a stunning 10th world championship.
“There was a lot of pressure and the rear tyre was destroyed,” said Lorenzo, the 2010, 2012 and 2015 MotoGP world champion.
“To be honest I didn’t see any (lap) boards to see how many laps were left.
“I tried to focus myself, keep my concentration and pray to finish the race.
“I’m very proud, this is a world title for Spain.”
Lorenzo put himself in the box seat to lift the championship after a perfect start from pole position as the Hondas of Marquez and Pedrosa slotted in behind.
All eyes were on the progress of Rossi from the back of the grid as the Italian scythed his way through the field in the opening laps.
By lap 12 the 36-year-old had surged into fourth spot after a series of pressure overtakes.
While Rossi was fighting through the field, the top three had broken away at the front which ultimately ended the Yamaha rider’s world title hopes.
A late charge from Marquez and Pedrosa did put the title back in the balance but Lorenzo did just enough to fend off the pair to take the win and the championship.
Tech 3 Yamaha’s Pol Espargaro emerged as the best of the rest in fifth ahead of team-mate Bradley Smith and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso.
Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro was eighth while Cal Crutchlow finished ninth after a mechanical issue saw him start from the back of the grid.
Pramac Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci rounded out the top 10.
Meanwhile, Aspar Honda’s Nicky Hayden bowed out of his final MotoGP race in 17th position.
Australia’s Jack Miller ended his maiden premier class season in 21st ahead of fellow countryman Anthony West in 22nd, while Broc Parkes retired with nine laps remaining.
Result: MotoGP Grand Prix of Valencia
|5||Pol Espargaró||Tech 3 Yamaha||30||+26.004s|
|6||Bradley Smith||Tech 3 Yamaha||30||+28.835s|
|9||Cal Crutchlow||LCR Honda||30||+35.924s|
|10||Danilo Petrucci||Pramac Ducati||30||+39.579s|
|13||Yonny Hernández||Pramac Ducati||30||+54.081s|
|14||Álvaro Bautista||Gresini Aprilia||30||+56.646s|
|15||Scott Redding||Marc VDS Honda||30||+57.278s|
|16||Héctor Barberá||Avintia Ducati||30||+57.363s|
|17||Nicky Hayden||Aspar Honda||30||+58.742s|
|18||Stefan Bradl||Gresini Aprilia||30||+59.086s|
|19||Loris Baz||Forward Yamaha||30||+1:04.339s|
|20||Toni Elías||Forward Yamaha||30||+1:04.413s|
|21||Jack Miller||LCR Honda||30||+1:05.212s|
|22||Anthony West||AB Honda||30||+1:27.281s|
|DNF||Mike Di Meglio||Avintia Ducati||24||Retirement|
|24||Mike Di Meglio||8|
|28||Alex de Angelis||2|