Dan Carter came off the bench to play a pivotal role in the two second-half Racing tries that sealed a 28-17 Champions Cup quarterfinal win at Clermont.
The hosts had needed to win the Champions Cup to qualify for next season's competition, but they are now consigned to life in the Challenge Cup next year.
Racing, on the other hand, have a semifinal against Munster in Bordeaux to look forward to in three weeks' time.
That prospect had seemed a distant one in the opening quarter as three penalties from Morgan Parra built a 9-0 lead for the dominant hosts.
However, after Virimi Vakatawa was denied a try by an obstruction, Leone Nakarawa stormed over for the game's opening score.
Maxime Machenaud then added a penalty of his own to his conversion to edge the visitors into the lead for the first time.
Peter Betham looked to have restored order with a try for Clermont before the break, while Machenaud and Parra exchanged penalties as the second-half got underway.
But the game would turn after Carter's introduction in the 59th minute. Five minutes later he had set Marc Andreu away for the game's decisive score, and although his pass to the wing looked forward referee Wayne Barnes and his team found no problem not to award the score.
Less than two minutes later the seal was put on victory as Boris Palu went over.