1993 500cc World Champion Kevin Schwantz was the rider Valentino Rossi dreamed of being - and that probably says all anybody needs to know about the Suzuki hero, whose spectacular on-the-edge riding style earned him a legendary fan base, but cost him heavily in terms of injuries and title success.
Having retired in 1995, with 25 500cc victories to his credit, Schwantz has since remained an active supporter of his former employer, offering backing and advice to Suzuki's racing efforts in BSB and AMA SBK as well as the company's often troubled MotoGP project.
Here, the famous #34 talks about his current work with Suzuki, the impact new MotoGP team manager Paul Denning has had on the team, his thoughts on the four Americans currently racing in MotoGP, his own racing activities and more...
What's your current involvement with the Suzuki MotoGP team?
Basically I'm just a free loader! I come and I enjoy the food and the drink and I watch practice a bit and give input as often as I can. I don't get to come to a lot of grands prix - of course I did the US Grand Prix - and I also went to the British GP.
What effect do you think new team manager Paul Denning has had?
Paul has changed quite a bit of stuff around, the image of the team has changed. Attitude in the team is still not at a high, but at the same time it's not at a low with the results they have been getting.
It would be real easy to be walking around with your chin on the ground or your shoulders slumped over, so I think he does a good job keeping the guys motivated, keeping the riders excited about new stuff that might be coming. He is going about doing things in quite a good way.
What do you think of the American riders in MotoGP?
Well Nicky (Hayden) and Colin (Edwards) of course had a good Laguna Seca - congratulations to Nicky on winning. Colin seems to be consistently running near the front, practicing near the front, being a contender, so he seems to have found a home there at Yamaha.
I wish the two Suzuki Americans could be doing the same, but I think we have four strong riders. I think Kenny Junior is at the point in his career where he doesn't want to risk things, like the other kids might be wiling to, and I can't say that I blame him.
We've also seen you at some British Superbike rounds, what do you think of BSB?
You know for me, I work for Suzuki in their American Superbike series so any chance I get to travel abroad and see how Suzuki are doing with their racing efforts, for me that's good.
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