1993 500cc world champion Kevin Schwantz is surprised and concerned at Casey Stoner's decision to sit out three rounds of this year's MotoGP World Championship - and thinks James Toseland is lacking the 'fire' he had in World Superbikes.
After an impressive opening five rounds, after which Stoner was leading the world championship with two race wins, the Australian struggled with sickness and then fatigue at the next five races.
Tests proved inconclusive and, after returning to Australia for further medical advice during the summer break, Ducati's 2007 world champion announced that he would miss the next three rounds to try and get back to full fitness.
“The doctors believe that during the Barcelona race [round six] I was suffering from a virus, and, that I subsequently pushed my body too hard, leading to problems that have caused my fatigue since then,” Stoner stated. “The doctors are continuing with many tests to try to understand these problems and make sure it does not happen again.”
But Schwantz, speaking during a media teleconference to promote next weekend's Indianapolis round of the MotoGP World Championship, thinks there may be other factors involved.
“And as a rider, my gut feeling is Casey needs to be out there competing,” said Schwantz. “This championship, when he made a [wet] tyre 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.