Dani Pedrosa thanked his Honda team for standing by him through his litany of injuries after he turned around a miserable year with a consummate Laguna Seca victory.
The result ended Honda's longest ever win-less streak in MotoGP, as Pedrosa and his team had not taken a first place since last June's Catalunya Grand Prix.
During that time, as well as lagging behind main rivals Yamaha and Ducati on pace, Honda also had to cope with a seemingly incessant string of injuries for its lead rider.
First Pedrosa badly injured his arm when he crashed while leading at the Sachsenring in July 2008, and then he added a knee injury in a fall in Australia.
Both problems required surgery, the after-effects of which hampered him in winter testing, and then he did further damage to both areas with a massive testing crash.
Although he did not miss any races, his performance were below-par as he struggled for fitness in the opening rounds of 2009, and he then ran into further physical trouble when he sustained a hip injury at Mugello. But today Pedrosa put those problems behind him by leading from lights to flag at Laguna Seca.
"It's been a long and tough year for me," said the Spaniard. "Since last year when I crashed in Germany everything bad has come to me and it was one problem after another. Finally to be back to winning is an unbelievable feeling.
"I'm very happy. But I'm especially happy for my team because they never gave up and pushed very, very hard -- even when the situation was really, really difficult. So thanks to them, and also to all the doctors who I passed through this year.
"Thanks to all the people that helped me to be fit again and who made sure I could race at this level."
Pedrosa's win upset the form book as Honda had not appeared to be a match for Yamaha and Ducati so far this season -- and even the winner admitted that his pace had taken him by surprise.
"The performance was very good, I was impressed!" he told the BBC. "Not even in practice did I do this rhythm. I was very comfortable and was doing great laps."
But he almost allowed the win to slip away when he let Valentino Rossi close right in on him on the final lap. The Yamaha rider tried to overtake into the final corner of the race, but was too far back to complete the move.
Pedrosa conceded that he should not have let Rossi get that close.
"Just on the last lap I relaxed a little bit too much," he said. "I saw [a lead of] almost 2s when I started the last lap and then in the last corner I saw the bike of Rossi and said 'oh, maybe I was too slow,' but fortunately it was the last lap and I could win the race."