My first year in MotoGP, I was adamant that I could ride the Yamaha like a Superbike. If I were on a Honda, maybe. But with the Yamaha, you really have to change your riding style. These are difficult things to get your head around. I came back the next year a different rider.
This year, I’ve been a lot stronger at the end of the race than at the start. That’s a little bit to do with the specification of the bike. It’s about fuel, but it’s also about managing the tire. I can go as fast on the last five laps as the first five laps, which is one of the main things you want to aim for. It’s just the first two laps where I lose everything. That’s an area in which I need to improve.
You have to adapt to the bike. Ben Spies and Colin Edwards are more like Superbike style: Stop the bike and accelerate out. But I learned fast that I had to change. You have to be your biggest critic and know where you have to learn and improve rather than say, “The bike needs to change.”
I look like I brake late, but, actually, I brake early. Marc Marquez is the opposite. Really late on the brakes. Moving the bike. How you load the rear and get on the gas depends on what bike you ride. I have to make the corner round because of the Yamaha. We need corner speed.
Jorge Lorenzo doesn’t brake hard; he never stabs the brake. He rides the bike just how it needs to be ridden, and then Yamaha bases everything around him. So, everyone else is trying to go toward his riding style. I’ve changed a lot, but to go that last extra step is really difficult.
I will never plain-face lie to anyone. Like at Laguna Seca: I had no excuses. I couldn’t find a setting for the bike, and I didn’t ride to the best of my ability. I had a bad weekend. So what? That’s just the way it is. You have to admit defeat—take it on the chin. As soon as you start to lose sight of that and think, “It’s the bike” or “It’s the team,” you’re finished. Your career is over.
Do you really think Yamaha would let a satellite guy win a championship? I don’t. I’m not suggesting Yamaha would say, “You can’t win.” But when was the last time a satellite guy won a championship? Or even a race?
When I sat down with the bosses of Yamaha, they said, “We can’t guarantee a factory bike.” So, that’s why the decision was made to go with Ducati.
One of the main things the seamless transmission will be good for is tire life. Plus, acceleration. That’s why we lose so much to the Hondas. But there was no guarantee I would get the transmission next year, either. I definitely won’t get it this year. That’s for sure!
I’m not angry with Yamaha. They’ve been brilliant in my career. Maybe I’ll come back, but at the minute, there’s no room for me. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I really believe that. It’s not fair or unfair. It’s just the way it is. You have to be able to accept that, and I did. I’m really happy to try another project, to do something else.