Colin Edwards gave a pessimistic outlook in terms of MotoGP's chances of breaking into mainstream American consciousness.

MotoGP currently holds two US-based events, this weekend's Laguna Seca round in California and a further round at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with a future event proposed for the new circuit in Austin, Texas.

But Edwards feels grand prix motorcycling has been fighting something of a losing battle to win over American hearts and minds, dating back to 'King' Kenny Roberts, a triple world champion in the late 1970s and early '80s.

"The reality of it is that most Europeans when they grow up, their first mode of transport is a scooter. So they have a love affair with two-wheels pretty much their entire life," explained Edwards.

"Our first mode of transport, being Americans, is usually a car. A scooter or a motorcycle is something that is either a hobby, or a maybe a passion or maybe you can't afford a car so you get a scooter or a motorcycle.

"Two wheels in America is just a struggle. And it always has been.

"Back in the old days with Kenny Roberts - sorry Kenny you're not old - back then it was all about trying to improve and make the American public more aware. But when you don't grow up with a love affair with two wheels, how do you get there?

"This is why most of our sponsors are European, that is where all of the teams are based. Trying to break into the US and do something... I don't know."

38-year-old Edwards, a former double World Superbike champion and twelve time MotoGP podium finisher, also fears that the global financial crisis will hurt attendance this weekend - as it has done in Europe.

"I saw what the attendance was at Mugello one or two weeks ago and it wasn't that great, so I'm curious to see what will happen here," he said.

Seven time champion Valentino Rossi agreed with the cultural difference between Europe and America and also recognised that the motorcycling industry as a whole is having a hard time.

"I agree with Colin, maybe in Europe is more a culture of two wheels," he began. "Two wheels is more deep because a lot of young guys start earlier to ride some sort of motorcycle, scooter or mini bike.

"I remember the first year in 2005 had a lot, a lot of people. After maybe unfortunately a bit less but the crowd here is still good and the passion is quite high, especially as this weekend is different from the rest because it is only MotoGP.

"In the paddock you can understand the reality more of the AMA Superbike and Supersport. It is a different style compared to Europe.

"Unfortunately, like Coin said, also Europe now is not a great time for motorcycles. Last time at Mugello we had a lot less people than normal but also in Spain. In our places now the situation is not fantastic about motorcycle business.

"Also if a lot of people are in love with motorcycles maybe a bit more than in the US, it will be interesting to understand what happens this weekend."

Free practice for the US MotoGP takes place on Friday.


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