Friday, January 16, 2009

Kevin Schwantz on what he teaches, MotoGP, and whether Rossi can be beaten…


Schwantz says Rossi will win if there's a Rossi-vs-Bayliss match-up!

Crash.net recently did an interview with Kevin Schwantz, 500cc motorcycle GP racing world champ in 1993 and also one of our all-time favourite GP racers. Here are some excerpts from Schwantz had to say in the interview:

On what he teaches at the Kevin Schwantz Suzuki School, which recently moved from Road Atlanta to Barber Motorsports Park

The school has always been based around riding. It is not a racing school and although we hold it at a racing circuit, it is so we can control that 2.5 miles of race track. What I teach is what I learnt during my racing career, but mostly it is about basic handling skills, visual awareness, body position, braking technique… the things that can be applied to the race track or on the street.

On how his riding school tries to mould rider skills

The first and most difficult thing we have to overcome is visual awareness – we have to be out in front of that motorcycle, so we are not reacting to situations but anticipating what is going to happen. If someone gets into a corner too deep, they typically get on the brakes, startle themselves and look at what is on the outside of the track. Our instinct tells us we want to see what is out there, but nine times out of ten, where you look is where you go. So, you have to continue to look where you want to go, rather than the outside of the track where the trouble is.

On why he’s not back in MotoGP this year, as a team manager

It is a sign of the times, with the economy. I was recently in Japan and everyone is preparing for the worst. To build another bike and to get it out on the grid at extra expense is not financially viable, so Suzuki didn't think it was the time to be spending money. It might still happen, though.

On what Suzuki need to do to start winning in MotoGP

I wish I knew the answer. Having to watch from a distance, and not being there every weekend or seeing the progress made by the team and their rivals, makes it hard to comment on that. I think Chris and Loris are doing a good job. I think Loris has helped, especially in terms of direction and development, and Chris still has that fire inside him. We see when it is equal out there that the Suzuki is as capable as anything else out there in the wet, but the guys have to find a little bit more performance. There are lots of little things that need to happen, but to pin-point one thing is hard.

On the proposed Rossi vs Bayliss match-up

I have all the respect in the world for Troy Bayliss as a racer, a person, as a competitor – he is obviously a very smart person. I don't think that a man who has money to put on the line, though, can bet against Rossi. I have seen Valentino do some amazing things, like Bayliss, but I think Valentino would come out on top. It would be a very ferocious battle but Valentino would have the upper hand.

On whether Rossi can be beaten in 2009

I definitely think Rossi can be beaten – we have seen on certain occasions that he has beaten himself! Valentino is getting to the age where he is a really smart, savvy rider – he knows what he can do and what he cannot get away with. Stoner will be his biggest challenger, but I like to think Nicky Hayden on a Ducati will be able to step up and find that world championship winning form he had a couple of years ago. Pedrosa, as always, Dovizioso... There are a lot of guys out there that, with a little improvement, could challenge Rossi.

On Kawasaki's withdrawal from MotoGP

It is one of those things that, no doubt, has a big effect on the image of MotoGP. I don't think it is a sign of the demise of MotoGP, but more that it is a sign of how bad things are in the current economic state.

For the full interview, see the Crash.net website here

Also see:
In conversation with Alex Criville, 1999 500cc world champ...
Leslie Porterfield, the fastest female motorcyclist in America...
Memorable: Graeme Crosby and his bikes...
Duell in hell: BMW HP2 Sport vs KTM RC8...
The man even Valentino Rossi can never beat...
Back to the begining: Gottlieb Daimler Reitwagen replica...
One-off 1992 Kawasaki ZX-7R special...

Elsewhere today:
The silliest three-wheeler concept we've ever seen...
Picture gallery: Bikes, and those Italian ladies...
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