Jorge Lorenzo has said that he always believed that he could win the 2015 World Championship despite making an indifferent start to the season.
The Movistar Yamaha rider wrapped up his third World title at this month's season-ending race in Valencia, edging team-mate Valentino Rossi by five points.
In the early stages of the campaign, Lorenzo was some way off the pace, though, finishing fourth in the opening two races in Qatar and the United States, before slipping to fifth in the third race in Argentina. At the same time, Rossi had notched up two race wins and a further podium finish.
However, Lorenzo bounced back in superb fashion to win the next four races, while adding three more race victories before the end of the season.
Reflecting back on the start of the season, Lorenzo admitted that he felt his charge was being derailed by bad luck, but that he remained confident that he could turn things around.
“In Qatar, the thing happened with the helmet where I lost vision in the last laps. In Austin, I was weak and I was taking antibiotics. In Argentina, we weren't fast enough all weekend and also we decided to go with the softer tyre… that wasn't the right decision, which was the hard tyre," he told the official MotoGP website.
"So I lost 29 points from the leader of the championship, and I knew I needed to react soon, so in Jerez I just say, “Ok Jorge, just go there and ride in the best way possible without thinking, just trusting your instinct,” and that’s what I did. It worked well and this was the beginning of a very good recovery in the next few races also.”
Lorenzo feels that the turning point in his season came in San Marino where he crashed out, his only retirement of the season. He went on to claim 106 of a maximum 125 points in the remaining five rounds.
“There were some points of the Championship that I believe were very difficult," he explained. "The first one was after Argentina, when I was 29 points behind and then probably the other one is after Misano.
"You arrive at a track on Wednesday and until Sunday the weather is perfect. Then, just on Sunday, in three races in a row it rains during the race. That is where the points are given… I was a little bit frustrated, yes. But we never gave up and the Misano crash was a key moment because I realised that I just needed to focus on winning.”
The season ended in controversial fashion, with Rossi starting from the back of the grid in Valencia after he was adjudged to have forced Marc Marquez off his bike during the penultimate round at Sepang.
The Italian has made no secret of his belief that Marquez actively tried to derail his title charge in order to help Lorenzo triumph, and while Lorenzo has admitted that the situation with his team-mate was difficult, he believes they will be able to move past it.
“Valentino has been always very clever speaking to the media and sometimes you don’t have completely the reason, but he expressed his opinions," said the 28-year-old.
"You have to understand it as best as possible. It’s normal that the relationship gets a little bit tenser (between title rivals) and especially after Sepang, where he expressed his opinion and I expressed my opinion, the situation did get a little bit more tense. I think the past will forget everything and everything in the future will come again into normality.”
While the Rossi-Marquez feud dominated the headlines heading into the final race of the season, Lorenzo was focused on doing the best job that he could, and ignore other distractions.
“Before coming to Valencia I said to my team on Whatsapp “Ok guys, we have to make the best weekend in our lives,” and that’s what we did," he said.
"I don’t think in the past I have experienced a more difficult or tense situation, with more pressure than I had.
"I imagined that Valentino was going to finish fourth, so I knew that if Marc or Dani, or both, overtook me I’m going to lose the Championship. So I was praying, “No please, this time don’t try anything”. But I didn’t know that they also have a lot of problems in the front tyre and we won the race, winning the Championship in the last moment. So to have a more emotional, or more dramatic end to the Championship was impossible.”
Lorenzo has now won three World Championships – in 2010, 2012, and 2015 – while also achieving great consistency since arriving in the premier class in 2008.
“From 2009 to 2015, apart from last season when I finished third, I have always finished the season in first or second and if you are not mentally strong you cannot achieve this kind of consistency," he said.
"It makes me very proud to spend six or seven years finishing in first or second, but it also makes me very proud to be champion, fighting and competing against three generation of champions. Like Marc (Marquez) who is younger, Casey (Stoner) who is the same age as me, and Valentino (Rossi) who is older. For me, these are the three fastest and most talented of the 21st century.”