Kevin Schwantz has questioned Casey Stoner's decision to sit out three MotoGP races this summer as he attempts to recover from his ongoing health problems.
Stoner first complained of fatigue at the Catalunya GP back in June and, after struggling through the next five rounds, decided to sit out from Donington Park in July until Estoril in October to give his body time to recover. But 1993 world champion Schwantz suspects there may be more to the Australian's situation than meets the eye.
"As a rider, my gut feeling is Casey needs to be out there competing," he said. "To just decide you're going to skip three races and see if you feel any better at the end of it, to me, is a little bit out of the norm.
"For me it's a real disappointment. 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 know about yet. Maybe it's just some Stoner hard feelings towards Ducati, or towards the series or... I don't know what it could be."
Schwantz pointed to Stoner's disastrous gamble to start his last race, at Donington Park, on wet tyres on a dry track in the hope of an imminent downpour as a sign that the 2007 champion was not acting as he would expect.
"He made a tire choice at Donington that seemed to be a little bit off of the norm," said Schwantz. "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 'I don't really feel all that good'. To have signed a contract to compete unless something is medically wrong with you..."
When asked how difficult it is to race at the highest level if motivation is an issue, Schwantz said: "If your heart is not in it, it's somewhat of a high-risk profession. Maybe you're better off going to go get a desk job, or at least stepping away from the sport. That, in my situation, is what I did.
"I sure hope that's not the case with Casey Stoner -- that he's just lost interest and focus in this sport at such a young age, because he's definitely a huge draw to the series. He's been a world champion, so he obviously can ride at world championship-winning level."