Last Wednesday, as soon as the final day of testing at Sepang ended, MotoGP teams hurried to pack up all their things and rush towards the airport—and at Yamaha, especially on Jorge Lorenzo's side of the garage, the expressions were of absolute satisfaction.
After securing the title in one of the most explosive championships in history, the Majorcan was more serene and confident than ever. In that mood, he sat down and spoke to Oriol Puigdemont.
In what shape did you arrive in Malaysia?
"Although many people will think I'm kidding after these days, I didn't arrive in the best conditions. Having won the title meant the beginning of my physical training got delayed. Besides, I had a cold and was on antibiotics.
"But everything turned out to be very easy, and we have a bigger advantage than ever over the rest, about a second in all conditions. I had never managed that. And doing it here, where I'm yet to win in MotoGP, is even more surprising."
Is the confidence that you radiate a result of last year's title?
"Yes, obviously you are left with a great taste in your mouth, but if I had lost the championship I would have arrived here and gone exactly as quick."
What does this third crown mean to you?
"It would have been very frustrating to lose it. I was the fastest with some margin in most of the races, besides us being the team which worked the best. Losing it due to bad luck that we had in some grands prix would have been very annoying."
What did you learn from what happened?
"Last year we found ourselves with the worst tyre we could have for my riding style. That's why we started so bad. It happened in 2014 already, especially in the first races. Then they modified it and gave it a bit more grip on the profile, but I never felt as comfortable as in 2013, 2012 or 2010.
"That made me extract the maximum and learn to suffer in unfavourable conditions. From Germany 2014 and Valencia 2015 I'm the rider with the most points scored. Having suffered so much has made me stronger. Probably, if Bridgestone hadn't entered back in the day, I would have more titles now."
Your rivals say that when you are on fire, you are uncatchable. Where do the doubts that sometimes affect you come from?
"There are people who say that Lorenzo is not mentally very strong, but when you analyse my career in MotoGP, leaving the first year aside  and 2014, when I finished third, I have won or have finished second.
"Doing what I have done is very hard. If you are not mentally strong that's impossible to do. And that's why I don't understand the criticism. If I'm physically better and more convinced, then I can raise the level a bit. But when I'm not at my best I'm still up there, fighting for the title."
Lin Jarvis says that Ducati is trying to lure you away. Do you see yourself at Yamaha for many years?
"Even during the hardest times I've said that my dream was to retire here. And not only that, but after the title I think it's possible to become the most successful rider with the team. It would be a dream.
"But just like I make this team the top priority, it's important for them to value what I have given to them. After Valentino's last title in 2009, the only one who has won with Yamaha is me."
Did you feel you were not valued enough last year?
"I have never been worried about Rossi being more media-friendly and that he has more photographers around him. And I even see it as normal that Yamaha prefers him to win because of his popularity, because that way it would have sold more bikes.
"To me, the only thing that matters is to have the same equipment because I trust in my abilities and I know that with those rules I will do well. In that sense, this company is Japanese and very serious and it has always supported me as much as possible."
How did the team make you feel after you won?
"It's true that some parts of the team were left with a weird feeling, a bit different than if just one Yamaha rider had been fighting for the title. That controversy made a few people act somewhat cold, but I think that was a consequence of what happened at Sepang."
And how do you see Rossi now?
"It seemed impossible that Valentino would be able to keep that level at his age and he's doing it. If he goes one like that it's possible he will consider renewing for a couple more seasons.
"Some time I ago I didn't imagine myself competing for many years at the top in MotoGP, and now I think that if I'm competitive and I enjoy the sport more and more, why not extend my career?"
During your talks with Yamaha, did it cross your mind to veto Rossi?
"I have never vetoed Valentino or any other teammate, not even when I had the chance to do it. I'm aware that Rossi is beneficial for the brand, both on and off the track. It's good that it goes on that way.
"We have a very complete structure, we had secured the triple crown, and that without a competitive pairing is impossible."
A couple of seasons ago, when Marquez dominated, there were people who said that the Yamaha was not too far from the Honda. Now, however, it seems that the Honda is a disaster.
"Your value is provided by the stats, especially if you compare them. At the end of the day, from the day I arrived in MotoGP I proved that it was possible to beat a star like Rossi.
"And in fact, when we've had the same bike, my numbers have been better than his. And that keeping in mind that he's considered the best rider in history. Your level, your quality and your value is determined by your results."
Was it a relief to see that the Marquez-Honda alliance was not invincible?
"In 2014 it looked as if Marc was going to dominate for five or six years in a row. Then you realise that nothing lasts forever and that Fangio was right when he said that you have to fight to be the best but never believe that you are.
"You can't relax. You can only take advantage of the moment if you are strong, because sooner or later the others will catch you."
Translated by Pablo Elizalde, Motorsport.com News Editor
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