While France’s reigning world champion Cal Crutchlow went home from the season-ending World Superbike round in Holland – the Kiwi was on a mission, but first needed to do a pit stop at Phillip Island before pursuing a third title in less than two years.
Uncharted territory seemed inevitable for the 29-year-old Briton, one of the biggest threats to his Italian teammate Andrea Dovizioso.
But Crutchlow again he was left for dead when he made a poor start at Phillip Island, and it was never going to be enough.
The Italian, on the other hand, kept the pressure on, leading Crutchlow on a single lap at the mid-point of the race until the Briton cut in.
Both went flat out for a final four-lap sprint that ended with Dovizioso celebrating in his factory Honda on the podium and Crutchlow in fourth.
“It is so hard at the end because you don’t want to be left behind,” Crutchlow told BBC Sport.
“I was on the podium for the first time this year, and we got the race win.
“It’s not what I wanted because I wanted to win the whole thing. It is what I wanted, but not what I wanted.”
To add salt to the wound, Crutchlow crashed out on the last lap of qualifying while Dovizioso qualified second.
Top Italy’s best
It would have taken more than a late rallying by Dovizioso, the reigning 500cc and 250cc champion, for the 33-year-old German veteran to give him a 3-0 on their most recent meeting.
“I still have that faith in him (Dovizioso), I don’t know what he thinks he has in the tank. No more than that,” Pecco was quoted as saying by Fanaticracing.
“I know how strong he is. I mean, there was nothing wrong. When you have a motorbike, you should have no problems. Unfortunately it’s not that way. Sometimes the other guy does it for more than you.”
It is tempting to see Pecco’s comments as a slight toward the man who overtook him for the championship. But the Beppino is not planning on becoming just another top MotoGP rider, one who just needs the support of other top riders, or, in this case, teams.
Indeed, he has announced himself as one to watch. His breakthrough move was at the Australian round at Phillip Island, where he finished third in the 2014 title race. And of course he won the 250cc World Championship in his second full season.
Six points behind Crutchlow in second place on the MotoGP podium is Dovizioso. And the Honda veteran has a high level of confidence.
“He’s been the strongest rider for the past year-and-a-half, so I’m sure he can win the title,” Dovizioso, said.
“I believe it. Tomorrow, we have to start from zero, and I am sure that I will have a good chance to win this championship again.”
Pecco was on second place when he crashed out at the French round, but his experience left him ready to chase the title again next year.
“Of course, it will be very difficult but I don’t see how any of the other riders can win the title,” Pecco said.
“Other riders are on good physical condition, but they did not have the other side to give you. When you race like me, you cannot go to the limit with one cylinder.”
That attitude could yet earn him a spot in Red Bull Ring next year.