Valentino Rossi, that wise old man of the MotoGP paddock, has secured second place in the MotoGP riders' championship. He never was within striking distance of 2016 champion Marc Marquez in the latter stages of the championship, but a run of bad luck and mistakes contributed significantly - but he will go home with a smile, knowing that he beat team-mate (and bitter rival) Jorge Lorenzo to second place.
Rossi has surprisingly been faster this year than he has last year - he has finally come to grips with the qualifying format, and started on the front row many more times than he did last year. His adaptability (and his prior GP experience with the Michelins) meant that he didn't have too much trouble scoring points, but a few mistakes at critical times left him wanting for the #1 spot in the championship. Some were truly disappointing because of luck - at Mugello, his engine lunched on itself in the race of during practice, like Lorenzo's did, and he had the best pace then. At the Sachsenring, he either ignored the pit board or didn't notice it in the frenzy of following the then leader of the race and ended up in a low position. He also crashed out of the lead at Assen. Most of his wins have been hard-fought ones - the battle at Sepang only the last of them, where he used up all the grip on his front tyre battling Iannone and the Ducati and then had nothing left to challenge his team-mate, Dovizioso. It is the sixth time Rossi has finished second in the riders' championship; five of those times have been at the top class of racing. We're also going to ignore the 2010 season, where he finished adrift of second place by a single point.
He may be 37 years old this year, but with young 'un Maverick Vinales joining him at Yamaha next year, The Doctor will have yet another year battling a team-mate, although this promises to be more friendly. Lorenzo aboard a Ducati, the Suzukis coming on form, the KTMs (not to mention Cal Crutchlow)... It's going to be a difficult year for Rossi; maybe his final one.
Then again, we've thought that before.