MC: So, Kenny Roberts, Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson: There has been a lot of American success in GP racing, but right now there’s sort of a lull. There’s Ben [Spies], and Nicky [Hayden] has enjoyed some longevity, but now all the talk is Bradley Smith and Danny Kent. What do you make of that?
CC: …for America, you’ve got two great guys who are in there challenging at the front with Ben and Nicky. Nicky’s a guy that’ll, y’know, he’ll be there forever because he won a MotoGP world title. But he’s a very, very good, fast rider, and you can never take a MotoGP title away from a rider, so, y’know, he’s had numerous podiums and numerous wins. Ben’s probably the fastest American rider, it’s just he hasn’t had the best luck this year and I really really believe that once he gets it back he’ll be back straight towards the front, and it’s good to see. Ben’s got a completely different style to a lot of the riders but he still makes it work.
Obviously, you did have your Kenny and Rainey and Randy [Mamola], and stuff like that, it’s just… I don’t know, motorcycling’s not where it was then, y’know? I remember watching the Grand Prix with [Mick] Doohan, and Randy, and people like that. There used to be 200,000 people deep at the race circuit. Now, we get 50,000. I think it’s… I won’t say it’s more difficult to be a MotoGP rider. There are more demands on the rider. We travel for 300 days a year. We have to pay our commitments, we have to…
MC: …do crappy interviews?
CC: No, no. At the end of the day the way I look at it is, the people that come to the race, buy the tickets, buy the merchandise, buy the bikes, y’know, all the fans you sign the autographs for, if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be racing. And a lot of other riders don’t think of it like that. They just think they’re there to do a job and they [the fans] are coming to watch us, but in all honesty if those guys aren’t buying the bikes, we’re not going racing. And we have them to thank for it.
There’s not many people that do jobs they love. Now, every motorcycle racer loves their job, otherwise they wouldn’t be there, I can tell you that. Casey [Stoner], doesn’t love his job any more so he’s going home. And that’s fair enough. So, I think, the riders can’t lose sight of the fact that when the economy is down like it is, and people struggle to get to racing, it’s more important to be more interactive with the fans. Because we need them to come buy the bike, we want them buy the tickets and the hats, because that means Yamaha gets more budget to go motorbike racing.