The problem was he kept playing with me so when it came to the last lap, I thought 'I can't believe I'm still here' and I knew I had to do it at the chicane because that's all the power I had in my arm. I had to go for it to keep the championship alive, it was 'do or die' and I took Kenan with me unfortunately. I had to win it or bin it with an arm I couldn't feel so that was the toughest race of my career and but I think it was probably great to watch.
Did you then find the adjustment to the 1000cc bike easy?
When I first got on the R1, I went quickest first test and then again in Philip Island and I thought I could win the title in my first year. That bike was easy to ride, it was the one that Cal [Crutchlow] and JT [Toseland] had been riding the year before and the one that they had complained was difficult to ride. If you want a difficult bike to ride you ought to try the one me and Marco had to ride the next season, that was a handful. Unfortunately that's why it took me a while to get up to speed on that one.
The electronics on the first Yamaha made it easier to adapt to the 1000 and I spoke to Kenan after those first tests to say that I couldn't believe how manageable the bike was. Unfortunately the next season's bike didn't live up to that promise. The engine character had changed in the wrong direction. If we had continued with the bike that Cal and JT had had we would have challenged for the championship in 2011.
How do the Yamaha and Aprilia contrast?
The Yamaha and Aprilia are quite different. The Aprilia by its nature is much more of a little race bike, it's really nimble and I can move it around. The V4 helps with the nimbleness but it also means that the engine's a bit longer, the bike's small but and long in fact it's not far away from the ART they're racing in MotoGP. It's had its problems though, particularly in the electronics with the anti-wheelie and engine braking giving particular cause for concern mid-season.
As regards outright speed, the Aprilia and BMW are probably the fastest in a straight line whereas the Kawasaki doesn't quite have the top end but does have great corner exist speed. I would say that these are the top 3 bikes on the grid.
Having said that, if I'd hopped on a bike and it was perfect I wouldn't have learned anything.
How about the teams?
The nice thing about Aprilia is that a lot of the guys have been there for 15 years. Luigi Dall'Igna doesn't have any fools around him and everybody in that team knows what they're doing, it's also friendly and feels like one big family because they've been there so long and I enjoy being part of that. There's also an Italian thing where they're particularly passionate about it.
Did you feel you were joining Max Biaggi's team?
I didn't feel that way, Max welcomed me and it also helped that I'd brought two of my own technicians along with me. I was welcomed as part of the family and made to feel at home.
Was there ever any question of there being a number one and two rider?
No, I don't think so. Of course towards the end of the year when Max was fighting for the championship that's only to be expected. I was injured before the season started anyway and had some difficulties at the first rounds so I had lost touch with the championship by then.
I had the same equipment as Max for the majority of the year, at the end of the year I obviously wasn't sure what updates he was getting to clinch the title. We got the riders and manufacturers titles though so it was a good year.
I wouldn't say there was a lot of exchange of information between the 2 sides of the pit though, it was a bit separate.
Luigi Dall'Igna is a big fan of racing and loves his sport so even with the customer teams like Chaz Davies last year they have the same level of kit as the factory team and there's not many manufacturers that would do that. I would be surprised if Aprilia were to disadvantaging a rider in their factory team when they're supplying race winning bikes to a customer team.