Newly crowned two-time Moto2 champion Johann Zarco believes that winning the title in the intermediate class again this season was an "obligation".
Riding for the Ajo Motorsport team, the 26-year-old successfully defended his 2015 title with a sixth victory of the season at Sepang, sealing honours with a round to spare.
While Zarco dominated in 2015, the French rider had to work harder this year, fighting against rivals such as Alex Rins, Thomas Luthi along with Sam Lowes and Franco Morbidelli.
He moves to up the MotoGP class in 2017 to join the Tech 3 Yamaha squad, where he will be joined by another Moto2 graduate, Jonas Folger.
Asked about the pressure of expectation of defending his title after opting to stay in the intermediate class in 2016, Zarco said: "Yes, it seems to be an obligation.
"In fact I expected that after competing last year with Tito [Rabat]. That was why I wanted to continue with the number 5 on the fairing.
"For me it was important to keep my feet on the ground. Anyway, I woke up every day thinking I had to win the title."
Explaining further which of his title wins was harder for him, he added: "They always say that retaining the title is more difficult. Maybe it is, especially the mental burden.
"But we’ve worked very hard over the past two years. This year there was a larger group of riders who have fought for the top positions: Luthi, Rins, Lowes, Morbidelli, [Takaaki] Nakagami etc.
"Also, I have not been so consistent and I have made mistakes. Last year I always had an important cushion in the overall standings, which helped me, but for me it was the result of many years of previous work."
After having won the title, Zarco celebrated with a back-flip for the record-breaking crowd present at the Sepang circuit. Later, on the podium, the Frenchman was in tears of joy while the national anthem played out.
"It was a very exciting day. I did not want to cry but it was impossible," he said. "To finish my time in the class and with Ajo Motorsport in this way is magnificent.
"It was the goal for the season; it has not been easy, but we did it!"