Cal Crutchlow (image courtesy Andrew Northcott/Monster Energy)
Another guy who might do that is Crutchlow. Preseason, you suggested he needed to start getting podiums and he's done that. Could he sneak a win?
Now that he's announced his departure, Yamaha may want to do everything they can to give him a win, but I doubt he's going to see much improvement in his equipment between now and the end of the season, so it'll be tough. But all he needs is a bit of a break. He's on the pace of Rossi most of the time, for example. And you know what? I would really like to see Cal get a win because once he gets to Ducati, it's going to be a long hard road to Victory Lane. It may be a long time before he even gets near a podium.
Now, I take what you say very seriously and I know you rate Stefan Bradl, so I wasn't surprised to see his consistency this year. Sixth place behind the works Yamahas and Hondas plus Crutchlow is about where Bradl should be in the championship. But pole position and runner-up finisher at Laguna Seca a couple of weeks ago… Where the hell did that come from?!
Well I think everyone was a bit surprised that he could do that with an LCR Honda. His crew chief Beefy [Christophe Bourguignon] called me and I got him a CBR1000 from Honda and got him riding on the track before the season even started, and I'd like to think that helped a little. But sometimes what you need to get the best out of you is not knowing what the future holds. When the media start asking you, “So, what's your plan for next year?” and you have to say, “Well, right now I don't have a plan…,” that can be some of your best motivation right there. You start asking yourself, “Why's no one sticking a contract in front of me?”
Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't say Stefan has been taking it easy, or hasn't been performing – racing in the top five each weekend means you're doing things quite well, right? But that last bit of inspiration that can drag the last 0.5 percent out of you can be the difference. It can help you produce something pretty remarkable. That Laguna result, finishing 2.4 seconds behind the fastest kid in the world on a factory Honda, has been followed by the midseason break. So that's given Stefan three weeks of being on a mental high, thinking, “Damn, I'm not that far from winning a race.”
The other factor is that he's only missed out on a couple results, and that improvement in consistency is another important factor in his progress: if he can't match the bikes in front, Stefan remembers that it's better to ride the bike into the back of the trailer than have it thrown in the back in pieces.
And finally, Nicky Hayden, the 2006 MotoGP champ, will be losing his ride at Ducati (LEFT, MotoGP photo) after five years of disappointment. He's compared favorably to his teammate Andrea Dovizioso but obviously everyone's view is colored by how he compared with Casey Stoner back in 2009-'10. What should he do now?
It's a tough call, because there's not much out there for Nick, unless that LCR Honda doesn't have Bradl on it next year. Factory Hondas, factory Yamahas and Tech 3 Yamahas seats are already taken. The CRT bikes…? I'd come home and race AMA Superbikes before I'd do that. I think Nick could go anywhere he wants in World Superbikes, but if I were him I'd be putting some feelers out now.
Who is Kevin Schwantz?
Synonymous with Suzuki and that famous No. 34, Kevin Schwantz won his eighth ever 500cc Grand Prix which was the opening round of his first full season in 1988. From 1989 to '94, he never finished the championship outside the top four, and the zenith of his achievement was winning the 1993 World Championship. He retired from racing after three rounds of the 1995 championship, having accumulated 25 wins, which puts him seventh in the all-time 500cc/MotoGP winners list. As a mark of respect, the FIM then officially retired the No. 34.
Schwantz set up the Schwantz School to create “more confident and safer riders” on the road, [www.schwantzschool.com]. He's also been an adviser for up-and-coming bike racers, played a pivotal role in bringing MotoGP to the Circuit of The Americas in his home state of Texas and his deep love of the sport means that he keeps his finger on the pulse of bike racing at all levels.