After Casey Stoner chastised the press, and called out Kevin Schwantz for his opinion on Stoner’s illness, Wayne Gardner, the 1987 500GP Champion, has weighed in his thoughts on Stoner’s absence from MotoGP racing. Saying what everyone already felt, Gardner calls Stoner’s absence “very suspicious” but still considers the Australian rider the favorite at the Australian GP this weekend.
Speaking the Australian newspaper, The Age, Gardner said:
“It’s very suspicious. I wish there had have been some sort of answer to it, that he’d come out with some sort of answer, because there is certainly an air of mystery to it. I personally haven’t ever seen anyone just stop for a rest during the year in my time of grand prix racing. It’s certainly an unanswered question. I don’t think it puts a question mark on him as a competitor but it would just be nice to know what was the reasoning for it … I think he probably needs to come up with some answers.”
Stoner’s return to MotoGP was marked with a press conference where he chastised the press for the speculation surrounding his reprieve from GP racing. Stoner also lashed out at American Kevin Schwantz for his comments and point-of-view on Stoner’s illness and absence.
“You know something that really upset me a lot and I’ve lost a lot of respect for him is Kevin Schwantz. After what he said, I had a lot of respect for that guy, he’s been one of my favorite riders and probably one of the most exciting riders to watch throughout my career. When somebody like that says something like that, it shows you that experience counts for nothing, which is what I’ve been trying to tell people for a long time now. They’re always looking to the older riders to give their points of view, but unfortunately, their points of view are very hard and there’s no changing them.
I saw the Kevin Schwantz thing and things like that, and it really made me laugh. It pissed me off at the same time, because I had a lot of respect for those riders, Jeremy McWilliams as well, I mean, what the hell do they know? Really, what do they know? Everyone’s sitting their with an opinion when they know nothing, and they don’t know the situation.”
Gardner would seem to be another person on the sideline who is drawing their own conclusions from the circumstances, and for his part the former 500GP Champion seems to realize that fact. But like many others, there is something about Stoner’s situation that isn’t sitting right with Gardner.
“I don’t tell him how to ride his bike and that’s the way he does things. But it’s certainly very unusual and very unique that someone stops and has a rest for three or four races in the middle of the year and then comes back out and races and says, ‘I’m better now.’ It shows you what a talent he is and hopefully he can keep that up for the rest of the year.”
We may never know the whole story about Stoner’s absence and mystery illness, but it is refreshing at least to see the #21 Ducati back up at the front mixing it up with Rossi, Lorenzo, and Pedrosa. Look for more close racing from the Fantastic 4 this weekend at Phillip Island.