Jorge Lorenzo's team manager Wilco Zeelenberg has given an insight into the Spaniard's 'emotional' season as the 2015 MotoGP title fight nears its climax.
29 points behind Movistar Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi early in the year, Lorenzo heads into the final two events just eleven points adrift after gaining crucial ground in Sunday's Phillip Island thriller.
Lorenzo and Rossi were part of a four-rider lead group in Australia, but both lost out on the final lap: Lorenzo saw victory snatched away by Marc Marquez, while Rossi was denied third place by Andrea Iannone.
“So much was at stake for both Jorge and Vale today, neither of them can make an error - like a crash - or it's over. But today was one of the best MotoGP races in many years and these battles are what the fans want to see,” Zeelenberg told Crash.net
“Of course only one rider can win, so that there is always somebody who is not so happy at the end! Basically we are quite happy though. It was a little disappointing to lose victory on the last lap, with the benefit of seven-eight tenths.
“Marc did a great last lap. Jorge made a little mistake in Siberia; he locked the rear a little and lost a bit of speed. Then Marc overtook Jorge in MG and after that you can do nothing to fight back before the finish.
“But to gain seven points [on Rossi] was on our wish list before the race, so everything is open now for the championship.”
Zeelenberg, winner of the 1990 German 250cc GP, added: “But I have to say 'chapeau' to Vale as well. He did a great race today. He lost some points, but he was there [fighting at the front] and I couldn't see that happening on Friday or Saturday.
“He never gives up as well, is always able to fight and Valentino loves this kind of battle. But I think today was a little bit of a hard one for him to swallow. On the other side he is still leading the championship and has an eleven point advantage.”
Lorenzo has usually been the rider to beat in dry conditions since the summer break, only to be taunted by 'mixed' race day weather on several occasions.
“I don't know if Jorge went up a level after the summer, I just think we made too many mistakes in the beginning of the season,” Zeelenberg explained.
“The first three races were bad. The first in Qatar with the helmet, the second in Austin he had the 'flu and the third in Argentina he made a mistake with the front tyre. Those things cost us a lot of points and Vale did great in those races.
“We came back from a long way behind in the points, but then we had not the luck of the weather. Jorge is not as strong as Vale in mixed conditions and there were three races were he should have been able to beat Vale: At Silverstone and Misano the rain came down for the race and at Motegi Jorge was fast in the wet, but it became mixed at the end and we again lost points.”
Such snaking fortunes have made for an 'emotional' season on Lorenzo's side of the garage, with the intensity sure to rise in the final two rounds.
“Jorge has handled it all very well, I have to say, also because this is not the first year he has had to deal with setbacks,” Zeelenberg said. “We've had an emotional year; big victories but also big disappointments, like when the rain came and he struggled to get the feel.
“But basically you just have to live with the facts; sometimes Jorge is quicker than the rest and sometimes he is not. This is the reality. The championship is open now, so let's go to Sepang where everything can change again.”
Lorenzo previously won the MotoGP title in 2010 and 2012.