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It’s rarer than rocking horse manure to see a rider win a Grand Prix having started from the pit lane and rare to witness a rider charge from the back of the grid to claim victory.

So for both to happen on the same day was unheard of and ensured the final round of 2012 in Valencia will live long in the memory as one of the most dramatic of the modern era.

The travesty was both were witnessed by the worst crowd in the event’s 14-year history as just 119,782 fans attended over the three-day weekend. At its peak and before the Spanish economy was ravaged by the global financial crisis, 237,149 fans turned up for the Valencia weekend just five years earlier.

For those that braved the mid-November chilly weather and rain, they were treated to virtuoso performances from Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez.

Drizzle that fell prior to the MotoGP race played havoc with tyre choice, and Pedrosa, Cal Crutchlow, Nicky Hayden and Alvaro Bautista all opted to gamble and pit at the end of the warm-up lap to switch to slick tyres on a drying surface.

It meant all four would have to start from the pit lane, but the switch proved to be an inspired choice by Pedrosa, who rounded off his best ever season to come from dead last to take the final win of the inaugural 1000cc campaign.

Having started from the back, Pedrosa incredibly won by a massive 38 seconds in a race that Jorge Lorenzo crashed out of the lead.

It was the factory Yamaha rider’s only mistake all season and he was throwing caution to the wind having already wrapped up the title at the penultimate round in Phillip Island. He blamed British CRT rider James Ellison for hogging the narrow dry racing line as he attempted to fight his way through for what would have been a seventh win of the season.

The MotoGP race was also memorable in that Lorenzo and Cal Crutchlow’s mistakes put Japanese rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga into second place.

He was riding as replacement for injured Texan Ben Spies and could have been forgiven for not having his mind 100% on the job. He had become a father for the second time just hours before the race and in treacherous conditions he finished over 20 seconds clear of Casey Stoner.

Pedrosa’s stunning victory from the pit lane came hot on the heels of a phenomenal performance from Marc Marquez in the Moto2 race. Marquez certainly has the talent to back up his renowned aggression and he delivered one of the outstanding performances of the season to bow out of Moto2 from the top step of the podium.

Marquez had been embroiled in his umpteenth moment of controversy in practice when he collided with Simone Corsi, sending the Italian hurting into the gravel at high speed.

Being a serial offender, Marquez’s penalty was to start the race from the back of the grid.

Testament to the talent Marquez possesses was that very few people in the paddock dared to doubt that he could win the race.

His ride through the field was not a complete surprise but still extraordinary and delivered further proof of why the gifted teenager’s arrival into MotoGP in 2013 is one of the most anticipated for many a year.

Roll on 2013.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt