At last Sunday’s championship press conference, Lorenzo admitted he couldn’t have imagined the drama that unfolded leading to the grand finale in Valencia.
“What happened with Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi in Sepang was better to avoid,” he said, “but these things cannot overshadow my performance this year. For sure, this will not affect my proudness of this world championship.”
His leathers still damp from champagne, Lorenzo characterized his feelings as “super emotional, super happy, super proud.” Given the factory Yamaha rider’s body language, one might also add “relieved.”
Asked to recap the season, Lorenzo described the first three races as a nightmare. “We had the potential,” he said, “but for some reason we never reached the podium.”
Under the lights in the Qatari desert, Lorenzo experienced a technical problem with the lining of his helmet. At Circuit of The Americas, he suffered from bronchitis. In Argentina, tire choice relegated him to fifth.
After those lows, Lorenzo rose to Marc Marquez-like heights. Combined margin of victory for the next four rounds—Jerez, Mugello, Le Mans, and Catalunya—was 15.844 seconds. Then another trough.
“I was able to be very competitive in practice,” he said, “but for some reasons in the races, especially the rain and crash in Misano, I couldn’t get a good result. I lost a lot of points. Finally, luckily, we recovered all the points in the last three or four races.”
About Misano, Lorenzo said, “If I could have finished that race, I would probably have arrived at Valencia with an advantage in the championship and could have been more quiet.”
Lorenzo said this was the hardest season of racing he had ever experienced. “A lot of pressure on the grid, a lot of pressure at the start, a lot of tension on the bike. But I did it, and therefore I can say it was worth it.”
Lorenzo went on to explain why this particular title means so much to him. “Valentino [Rossi], who is older than me, Casey [Stoner], who is more or less the same age as me, and Marc, who is younger, for me, they are the three hardest rivals.
“In the 21st century, they have been the best riders, so to be able to be champion on the track in different years was my goal.”
Lorenzo encountered heavy criticism from Valentino Rossi fans at Valencia, as did Marquez. The latter was booed on the podium, and both lost prominent sponsors.
“I think the people who really know motorbikes understand my value as a rider and as a champion,” Lorenzo said, “and they will be happy with my achievement.
“Obviously, the people who support another rider—in this case, Valentino—will never be happy about this championship. But a champion is a champion, and a champion who has my statistics this year deserves the championship.”
Lorenzo stressed the support he received from Yamaha since his arrival in 2008. “I always had the best bike they could offer me,” he said. “Even when Valentino was the main rider in the first years, I had the same material.”
At Valencia, Lorenzo squashed wild rumors that he would duck the second year of his Yamaha contract and jump ship to Ducati. “My goal, my dream, is to retire in Yamaha,” he said. “I cannot guarantee this is going to happen, but I’m going to put all of my effort for this. We’ll see in the future.”
Speaking of the future, Lorenzo was asked to look into his crystal ball. What does he expect for 2016? “I expect a fight—Yamaha, Honda, Ducati,” he said.
“Marc is very young and ambitious, very fast, very aggressive. We were lucky this year that he crashed many times. Without those crashes, he would fight with us to win the title. Dani [Pedrosa] is recovering the speed and ambitions he had in the past.
“For sure, MotoGP is the best championship and it’s always very difficult to be champion again. The last two years I couldn’t do it. I want to enjoy this championship because I don’t know if I can repeat it.”