Having considered his MotoGP title defence all but over just three races ago, Jorge Lorenzo instead finds himself in a championship showdown with Marc Marquez at Valencia this weekend.
Reigning double champion Lorenzo, who suffered mid-season collarbone fractures, had been 43 points from Honda rookie Marquez after Sepang, with just 75 points still on the table.
Lorenzo could therefore have lost the title to Marquez at each of the previous two rounds.
Instead Lorenzo has scored a perfect 50 points, while Marquez has managed just 20 due to disqualification for a late pit stop at Phillip Island, then second behind Lorenzo at Motegi.
It means the pair are separated by 13 points heading into MotoGP's first title showdown since 2006, when the rider behind (Nicky Hayden) went on to be champion.
“So we come to the last race in Valencia,” said Lorenzo. “It's going to be exciting, maybe the most exciting of all the season. We are still in the fight and that is the most important thing right now. I'm very stimulated because three races ago we thought the championship was over. Instead we have a chance to fight for the title.
“Valencia is my home race and it will be very emotional considering our position in the classification. We don't have anything to lose but everything to win, and this card plays on our side. Maybe our main rival can feel much more pressure in Valencia than us because he is so close to victory.
“I look forward to riding there and pushing with all my force. If we can continue to ride at our level we can fight for the win and then wait for the circumstances. You never know what can happen, especially if the [weather] forecast is uncertain as it was last year.
“We trust in ourselves and we expect a good race in front of our fans. We will never give up until the end!”
Lorenzo needs Marquez to finish out of the top four even if he wins on Sunday, raising the prospect of possible 'go-slow' tactics should Lorenzo deliver his usual lightening opening lap.
But Marquez knows that if both he and Lorenzo fail to finish, he will be champion and is therefore unlikely to shy away from any 'bar-banging... albeit in the knowledge that he has three penalty points hanging over him.
Lorenzo's team manager Wilco Zeelenberg believes weather could be the crucial factor.
“Let's see how it goes throughout the weekend and what the climate conditions are because it is autumn; rain and cold are there, threatening,” he said. “We have to be aware of that tricky track if it's rain because it is so slippery.
“Jorge has to be calm and focused but he did a great job all season and we are also able to beat here our rivals. He is very strong physically and mentally and riding in perfect form.
“We don't have anything to lose and the opportunities are there.”