Cal Crutchlow described his fourth place finish in the Valencia Grand Prix - which earned him MotoGP rookie of the year honours for 2011 - as the perfect springboard into the 2012 season.
The Tech 3 Yamaha rider had a race-long battle with rookie title rival Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Ducati) for what became fourth, with their dice only resolved on the final lap when the Czech rider clipped Crutchlow's bike and fell, dropping to eighth.
"That was a pretty dramatic way to finish the season and I am obviously thrilled to win the rookie of the year title," said Crutchlow. "But I'm equally happy to have finished in fourth place because that was an incredibly difficult race.
"I'm not sure what happened at the first corner but I came out of it in sixth place and just pushed as hard as I could. It was a really intense battle with Karel right to the end and both of us were giving it everything we had. The track was so greasy it felt like you could crash so easily and when the rain started getting heavier I just got my head down again and kept pushing."
In the closing stages Crutchlow caught works Honda rider Dani Pedrosa for fourth, to his surprise.
"I started to catch Dani really fast and I wasn't sure if he had a problem or whether I was pushing too hard," said Crutchlow.
"I slowed down because of that and Karel caught me back up, so it came down to the last lap and he obviously made a small mistake. He hit me from behind but I managed to stay on and to finish the season with my best ever result is a great way to start planning for 2012.
"This year has been an incredible learning experience and we have a lot to work on for next season, but I feel confident I can make the step to the next level. I can hold my held up high and now I am looking forward to getting my first experience of the Yamaha 1000cc bike on Tuesday."