Jorge Lorenzo said his third MotoGP World title was all the more special given that he has now clinched the premier class crown competing against 'the three greatest riders of the 21st century'.
Lorenzo dethroned Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez and denied his Movistar Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi a tenth world title at the final race of the season at Valencia in Spain.
The Majorcan feels his third championship in motorcycling's elite class holds extra significance, pointing out that he has also been crowned champion when competing against Casey Stoner – a feather he says is missing from Marquez's cap.
“I knew this championship was very important because for me, Valentino who is older than me, Casey who is more or less the same age as me and Marc who is younger: for me they are my three hardest rivals but in general, in my opinion in the 21st century, they have been the best riders and to be able to win here was my goal and I feel very proud,” said Lorenzo.
“If Valentino was the champion he could say that, but Marquez cannot say that because Casey has retired already, so it was very important for me to win.”
Recapping the climax to one of the most controversial MotoGP finales ever, Lorenzo admitted he was forced to do it the hard way in the end, overcoming a seven-point deficit to Rossi in the last race of the year to secure the title by five points.
“There has been so much drama in the last weeks, in the last races; in the last race, it couldn't be more emotional or difficult for both riders and finally in the 17 races I could not be leading the championship by some points – just I could equal Valentino in some races,” he said.
“Finally in the last moment, in the last race, I could win my third world championship in MotoGP – the fifth in my career – so I'm super emotional, super happy and proud and I just want to enjoy this with my team and with the people who made this possible to happen; with Yamaha and all my team who made this happen.
“We won everything possible and we made the best bike in 2015, so I'm very proud to be part of this.”
Looking back to the beginning of the campaign, Lorenzo said he could not have imagined winning the title after a poor start to the championship that left him languishing 29 points behind Rossi.
“Especially the first two races have been a nightmare because we have the potential, but for some reason we never reached the podium; in Qatar for the problem with the helmet, in Austin I wasn't perfect and in Argentina we have some problem with the tyres,” said Lorenzo.
“So, never on the podium and we have 29 points disadvantage but finally in Jerez we found a good feeling, a good bike and we won four races in a row.
“We stayed on the podium for some races but we had some bad periods in some races. I was able to be very competitive in the practice but not in some races and especially in the rain and for the crash in Misano, I lose a lot of points again,” he added.
“Then finally, luckily, we could recover all the points in the last four races: so much drama, but finally the championship is in our hands.
“It was a very hard championship in general and probably the hardest racing in all my life because there was a lot of pressure on the grid, on the start and a lot of tension on the bike.”