MC: Tell us about that fan at Motegi who was walking around in… was it a piece of a fairing?
CC: Yeah, he was walking around with my helmet on and a piece of fairing around his chest. The Japanese fans? All day. From eight in the morning, he was just walking around the paddock.
MC: You’re known as an honest and affable guy. Is that something you focus on or is it just a reflection of you being grateful for the sport and for the fans?
CC: There’s not many riders that are, probably, as outspoken as me. Which, in a way is a good thing and in a way is a bad thing. I know sometimes I should button my lip but I don’t. A lot of people like it, a lot of people don’t. Y’know, I’m lucky in Yamaha, it’s like being in a big family.
You have other guys that just run the corporate line all the time, that will do anything and everything just to keep their job, and, y’know, doing it the wrong way. Their smile’s not a real smile. And that’s okay, I think it’s… if that’s what they want to do that’s great, but they [the fans] want a normal person, they don’t want a robot that’s been told what to say. I’m a normal person. I’ve got to go to a grocery store, y’know? I have to go clean my own house. I don’t have my food helicopter’d in through a top window or something. So, I hate the riders that act like that or they think it should be like that, because it’s not. It’s really not.
MC: Can you picture a time when you get sick of it? The 18 GPs a year, the living out of a motorhome? Stuff like that.
CC: When I’ve crashed, and I’m on a long flight home, it isn’t the nicest feeling in the world, but I can tell you now I wouldn’t change my job for anything. I love my job, and as I said it’s very rare people can say they love their job. Every day they do something they love. Yeah, we don’t enjoy the crashing part or the walking through the airport part,but… I think we still work for our hours.
MC: On the subject of work versus play, do you think someone like Casey Stoner would’ve been better off in the late ’70s or something? When you could go up on the podium with a cigarette in your mouth and not care what anyone thinks?
CC: No, I dunno. I think Casey’s great. Why? Because he never does anything different. He’s always said, “I don’t like doing the press stuff. I’m here to race a motorcycle, and that’s it.” So he was straight up straight away. And on any given day he was normally the fastest guy. But he never managed to put the seasons together like some of the other riders, but he was the fastest, yea. And, when he stopped enjoying it he left, it’s as simple as that.
MC: You can’t blame him. So, your room for advancement in Yamaha is for you to beat Lorenzo or to beat Rossi, right?
CC: Yeah, it’s going to be difficult, but it’s going to be difficult in Yamaha, because those guys have signed for two years. So that means I can stay in my position for two years or go to a different manufacturer. Now, I’m very, very happy with Yamaha and I’d love to stay with Yamaha, but it’s tough knowing that Jorge and Valentino are set for two years. We know that Yamaha hasn’t got the budget to have three factory riders; as in be paid, and have the same equipment, so even if I went and beat them both next year and won the championship I could still be in the same position I’m in now.
MC: Is that a tough pill to swallow?
CC: Yeah, it’s a tough pill to swallow when you’ve beat guys all year. Not Lorenzo, obviously, but beat Valentino, beat Nicky, beat… y’know, guys who are on factory teams and I’ve beat them on a privateer bike. It’s a tough pill to swallow when it’s only your second year in MotoGP.
MC: Would you rather be on a factory Ducati than a satellite Yamaha?
CC: Uhhhh…[pause] I would rather be on a factory team than be on a satellite bike. Now, at the end of the day, people say, “the Ducati’s this, the Ducati’s that”… But, y’know, they’ve been bought by a big company and you don’t know what they’re going to [come up with]. Now, I don’t think the bike’s that bad. I think that… Nicky’s a great rider. Is he ever going to win a Grand Prix again? I don’t know. Has he got the drive and determination to win a Grand Prix again, I really, really don’t know.
But, Valentino, I think was just at a point where he didn’t want to risk any more, and he didn’t get on with the bike, or the team or whatever, and moved on. Now, maybe they just needed someone to go in there and ride it and not care about anything. Now, Andrea [Dovizioso] is not that guy, I can tell you. Because… Andrea is one of the best riders that I’ve seen in MotoGP, but he’s so smooth and so… I’m not saying “fussy” about stuff, but really precise. And, the Ducati, you look at it and watch it on track and it doesn’t look like… if someone tries to ride it like that they’ve got no chance. Nicky, he’s quite an aggressive rider, so he rides the bike well. Is that its maximum? I really don’t know, because Nicky… Nicky doesn’t crash. Not that he doesn’t crash, but he doesn’t push to the point of crashing, and maybe it needs to be pushed harder, because Stoner was pushing all the time and he was winning on it. Now, Nicky never beat Stoner, so I don’t know. I really don’t know.
MC: Do you think Pedrosa turned over a new leaf with his win at Valencia?
CC: Yeah, and I think he’s the strongest guy for the title next year.