Iker Lecuona has cherished the chance to bow out of MotoGP with a points finish as Tech3 KTM Factory Racing prepares for a double change.
While the retiring Valentino Rossi was understandably at the centre of attention at the Valencia Grand Prix, it also marked the last event – for now, at least – for both Lecuona and team-mate Danilo Petrucci.
It's been known for some time now that the duo would be replaced in 2022 by Moto2 title rivals Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez.
Still just 21 years of age, Lecuona finished 15th in Valencia. He will next year ride for Honda's factory team in the Superbike World Championship but hinted at possibly returning to MotoGP one day.
“Finally, I could finish the race, finish with one point, so I reached my goal,” he said.
“I struggled a lot but we finished close to the top guys.
“I just want to say thanks to the team for these two years! I cried a lot, I enjoyed a lot, I learned, I improved, so I want to say thanks to the team and for sure to my family, friends, the spectators, who came here to push me and to see my last race.
“So, thanks to everybody! It's not the last goodbye. To be continued.”
For two-time premier class race winner Petrucci, he'll switch his focus to off-road racing including a tilt at the 2022 Dakar Rally for KTM.
“A huge thank you to everybody, everybody in KTM, everybody in Tech3 and generally everyone, who has been working with me,” said the Italian.
“We tried our best. In this race, I just tried to enjoy until the last moment. I'm really thankful for everything. Now it's time to rest a bit.”
Added Red Bull KTM race manager Mike Leitner: “The final race in Valencia is usually a difficult and an emotional one.
“In our case Danilo and Iker leave the MotoGP class and we had a great time with them and were able to count on some valuable development information from both and their styles.
“Danilo is a great guy and Iker also, who came into our team almost as an experiment and made much progress. We wish both of them all the best.”
On the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing side of things, Brad Binder secured sixth in the riders' championship with his seventh place finish in Valencia, while Miguel Oliveira took 14th in both the season finale and end-of-year standings.