Jorge Lorenzo said he was amazed that he was able to focus enough to stay with the lead fight as he reached the pinnacle of his career by becoming MotoGP champion at Sepang.
Having dominated the championship for most of the year, the Spaniard only needed ninth place in Malaysia to clinch his first title in the premier class, Dani Pedrosa's collarbone injury having removed his last real threat in the standings.
Lorenzo took pole position in Malaysia and led the first half of the race, resisting pressure from Honda's Andrea Dovizioso. His Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi – with whom Lorenzo had been embroiled in a fierce battle at Motegi last weekend – also joined the lead fight, with both the Italians passing Lorenzo. The new champion stayed with them, but eventually decided to prioritise the title over trying to earn another race win and settled for third.
"I was really impressed to be at the front and not to lose any time until the end of the race," said Lorenzo. "But when the tires started sliding I thought, 'today we have to finish the race and get the maximum a rider can get in the motorcycle world. Today is the happiest day in my life and we have to celebrate it."
Outgoing champion Rossi paid tribute to Lorenzo. The Yamaha pair have not had an entirely harmonious relationship, but Rossi stopped to congratulate his teammate on the slowing-down lap.
"I have to congratulate Jorge on the championship," he said. "He's a great champion and in the future it will be a great fight, I think."
But in an interview with Italian television, Rossi added that he never had any qualms about preventing Lorenzo from celebrating his title with a race win.
"Winning on the day Lorenzo wins the title doesn't matter, I race for myself, not for him," Rossi said.