The Spaniard is stepping down from his GASGAS Tech3 seat to make way for rookie star Pedro Acosta next season but will take on testing and wild-card duties, alongside Dani Pedrosa, at KTM.

But the exact wild-card plan is yet to be announced and Valencia brought at least a temporary halt to a full-time grand prix career that began in the now defunct 125cc class back in late 2006.

“It was pretty emotional and difficult to control, especially on the grid,” Espargaro said afterwards. “Every time I put my head up and saw all the people and riders surrounding me and felt all this nervous and tense energy that sometimes you hate but miss so much when you are away for a long time.”

Espargaro knows better than most how it feels to be away from MotoGP, having missed the first half of the season due to serious injuries at Portimao.

And while he will return to the MotoGP grid at some stage in 2024, Espargaro knows the Valencia finale was a landmark moment in his career.

“It's the start of the finish. It's the beginning of the end! I feel that one chapter is closing in my life and it's OK that I will race [next year], but it's going to be something very different,” he said.

“For sure, I will try to be competitive. I will try to recover from the crash because still, I'm weak. But hopefully, in the future I can do some good races like Dani [Pedrosa] is doing, by properly preparing for them and being competitive.”

Although reluctant to step back from racing, Espargaro - now 1.5cm shorter due to the fractures to his vertebrae, not to mention jaw and ribs - concedes he needs more recovery time for ongoing nerve issues.

“I thought I would recover the muscles, which I still have not recovered, much faster. But there are still some muscles that the doctor told me could take three months or even one year and a half,” revealed the 32-year-old.

“You never know when nerves will recover at 100%, but it's obvious that there are some muscles now where I have like 40% of the power.

“It’s a big problem especially in the left corners after 10, 12, 13 laps. So for sure, I need some time this winter.”

But like any racer, patience is not high on Espargaro’s agenda.

“I don't like natural healing! It's too slow! So I will use medication and treatments to try to improve these nerves as well as using the technology at the [Red Bull] APC [Athlete Performance Center] in Austria to make a plan to improve the weak parts of my body.”

After a late crash from 11th in the cool temperatures, Espargaro rejoined to finish his ‘final’ full-time MotoGP race in 14th place at Valencia.