In the run-up to next weekend's Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix, 1993 500cc world champion Kevin Schwantz took part in a media teleconference organised by Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Here are a selection of the questions and answers from that conference - in part one Schwantz answers questions on Casey Stoner, his thoughts on team management, the new MotoGP rules, the future of Jorge Lorenzo and how to get more bikes on the grid...
Could you touch on the Casey Stoner situation a little bit from your perspective, a lot of mysterious stories, other things going wrong. You've been to several MotoGP races in Europe this year, what have you heard, what have you seen, what do you think?
I guess, first of all, what I have heard and what I have seen is that Casey has been struggling with some type of an illness, whether it was a stomach bug or whatever at a bunch of the earlier, a couple of the earlier grands prix that I went to. Of course, the last one I went to in the Czech Republic, he wasn't there, and still with no form of illness that's been diagnosed by any doctors that I've heard anyway.
And as a rider, my gut feeling is Casey needs to be out there competing. This championship, when he made a tire choice at Donington that seemed to be a little bit off of the norm, had him right at the top of it. I mean, he didn't need to be making a gamble on tyres like that when he was in a championship hunt. For me, that kind of told me that there was something more going on with Casey than just, you know, "I don't really feel all that good but I'm finding a way to perform."
And for me, to have signed a contract whenever it was, beginning of last year, beginning of this year, you're signing a contract to compete unless something is medically wrong with you. I'm out there doing the best that I can. Whether I can give 100 percent every weekend or not is kind of the question. But for me it's a real disappointment, and I think, you know, Casey is a great competitor, and I think maybe a little bit more of this has to do with something behind the scenes that maybe none of us quite yet know about.
Maybe that's just some Stoner hard feelings towards Ducati or towards the series or, I don't exactly know what it could be. But to just decide you're going to skip three races and see if you feel any better at the end of it, to me, is a little bit out of the norm.
Can you talk a little bit about how difficult it is to remain motivated as a rider if your heart just simply isn't in it?
Well, yeah. I can be the first to comment on that because when I quit racing, it was, you know, any motivation, any focus that I had had, any inspiration to go out there and compete every weekend was a lot, was based around trying to figure out how to beat Wayne Rainey. Without Wayne there, winning a race is winning a race; and it was still really cool, but it didn't have near the meaning that it did when I was beating him.
If your heart is not in it, it's somewhat of a high-risk profession. Maybe you're better off going to go get a desk job or at least stepping away from the sport. And that, in my situation, is what I did. I sure hope that's not the case with Casey Stoner and that, you know, he's just lost interest and focus in this sport at such a young age because he's definitely a huge draw to the series. And I think he's been a World Champ, so he obviously can ride one of these two-wheel rockets at the best of his ability, which is World Championship-winning level.