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MotoGP, Schwantz: "Riders should do like Acosta and say what they think"

VIDEO - "I know that, when we talk about riders, we talk about a duel that happens on the track. But, actually, even when they leave the track, this duel continues, which I would call a word game."

MotoGP, Schwantz: "Riders should do like Acosta and say what they think"
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When one thinks of Kevin Schwantz, it's quite natural to also think of Suzuki, because the American legend spent almost his entire career riding Hamamatsu-built motorcycles and, of course, won his 500 World Championship title in 1993, riding an RGV Gamma. Kevin attended the Suzuki Motor Fest in Misano, and we had the opportunity to talk with him and address many aspects of the current MotoGP, the arrival of Liberty Media, the new regulations, and also how much today's riders have changed from those of his era.

We're here today, but you're not wearing your suit, while I am! How come?
"I'll be riding this afternoon but, unfortunately, not with you reporters. Maybe we'll be together at the same time today on the track, but not in the same place. I'm very happy to be here and, for the GSX8-R, I think Suzuki has created a platform that performs well in this racing configuration and also as a base for the V-Strom. I have a V-Strom 800 that I use as my personal bike. The engine performance is really good. It has very usable power on the road and also off."

Nice to see the affection of the fans for you, Marco Lucchinelli, and Franco Uncini. It looks like one big family celebrating.
"I think so. All the riders who attended the party with me today, like Marco and Franco, participated in the history of Suzuki by winning world championships in the 500, ten years before me in 1993. We've all been riding Suzuki for most of our careers. So I think we're all part of the Suzuki family."

Are there any riders today who remind you a little of you?
"When everyone saw Pedro Acosta up front in the first races, they said it was a surprise. But he actually always showed all the continuity he is capable of. Even in Le Mans, in free practice, he was immediately in front. I think he's a young and talented rider, and I consider him a friend."

But do you like the way the riders behave today. Perhaps they talk about politics too much?
"I already said in Austin that I think riders today should learn to say more what they think, just like Acosta does. Express their emotions better. I know that when we talk about riders, we talk about a duel that happens on the track. But, actually, even when they leave the track, this duel continues, which I would call a verbal challenge. And I don't think it's playing out like we used to see before. They're all too politically correct. But the level of today's riders is very high without a doubt."

There's no Suzuki in this MotoGP. Do you think the new rules can bring it back?
"I don't know. The new rules will change in 2027, and Suzuki has some time to think about it. Maybe they'll assess that, with these rules, they can come back and be competitive. In the end, it's all about cost. It's a very difficult and very expensive category. There are so many teams, so many components, so many races, so many devices. Maybe the restrictions will help Suzuki consider coming back. But, right now, I haven't heard anything about that."

Do you think these new rules may favor the talent of the riders more than they do today?
"Yes, I think riders will gain more importance with the new rules, with the reduction in displacement, in speed. If you look at what happened in Le Mans in free practice, they were very fast. Over 300 km/h. Today it happens almost all the time. When I used to race, the speeds were completely different, and maybe 300 km/h was only in Germany. But some tracks were the same and, today, they're also becoming too small for these bikes and these speeds. I also think it's a change that will help the young riders, because there are so many things to do when you're riding. You have to think so much. Maybe these changes will bring out who the really fast riders are as opposed to the importance of the bikes, like it is today."

Liberty Media will soon arrive in the MotoGP. Could this also be an opportunity to see an American back on track in the top class?
"Liberty Media did a great job with the Formula 1, and I think they'll be able to do the same with the MotoGP. If they do even half of what they did in the Formula 1, they'll make a difference. To see an American rider in the MotoGP will still take time. It needs a process, going through the Moto3 and then the Moto2. Maybe even race in Europe, do it in the national championships in Spain, in Italy. I think that's the real opportunity for young American riders today. But what would really be needed is funding to make it happen. Today, it's really hard for a rider who is not a millionaire to come from the U.S. and find a bike in the Moto3 or the Moto2. But also in Pre Moto2 and Pre Moto3."

In your day, the Japanese dominated. Today, they suffer too much. How do you see that?
"I think the Japanese have always been so determined to follow their own direction, which they've been struggling with today. The Europeans, on the other hand, are used to taking the maximum from every possible side. They try to have six or even eight bikes on the track. That's a sea of information that is very useful in finding the right direction to develop a bike. If you only have one team with two bikes and maybe a satellite team, it's really hard to fight on a level playing field. The Japanese constructors have to open their minds more than they do today. Yesterday, only Quartararo in Le Mans went straight into the Q2, and that's the first time this season. I feel bad for Honda and Yamaha, because we all know what kind of bikes they can build. Ducati is the reference. KTM has also improved, but maybe I expected more from them. However, Acosta is often placing his GasGas, which is a KTM, up front, so..."

 

Translated by Leila Myftija

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