The Ducati rider chased down Pramac rookie Jorge Martin in the first half of Sunday’s 27-lap finale at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit before making a decisive move on lap 15, which ultimately took Francesco Bagnaia to his fourth win of 2021.
Francesco Bagnaia along with all VR46 Academy riders ran a special Rossi tribute helmet, with the Ducati rider picking the livery the number 46 used to win his first title with Yamaha back in 2004.
Rossi ended his 432nd and final Grand Prix start in 10th and embraced Bagnaia after the chequered flag.
Bagnaia ends his third season in the premier class as runner-up in the standings and just 26 points behind world champion Fabio Quartararo, who was fifth in the Valencia GP.
His victory today and third for teammate Jack Miller also secured the factory Ducati squad the 2021 teams’ championship to add to its manufacturers’ crown.
Seven-times MotoGP title winner Rossi, one of the greatest and most charismatic of motorcycling champions, delighted fans including Brazilian soccer great Ronaldo with a few quick laps but was unable to add to his 199 premier class podiums.
The 42-year-old Italian, nicknamed “The Doctor”, is considering a move into car racing after more than two decades in Grand Prix motorcycling.
Rossi was mobbed by his fellow riders following the race, as congratulatory messages from the motorsports fraternity as well as the larger sporting world were broadcast on the giant screen with tennis greats Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal among those paying tribute.
Hollywood actors Tom Cruise, Chris Hemsworth and Keanu Reeves also sent messages of support for Rossi, the only rider to win titles in the 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP categories.
Rossi took a final lap of honour to a standing ovation from the crowd as fireworks dotted the sky, before an emotional farewell with his Petronas Yamaha team.