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Why Acosta wants the modern MotoGP rider to change

by Simon Patterson
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Star MotoGP rookie Pedro Acosta proclaimed ahead of this weekend’s Grand Prix of the Americas in Texas that his fellow racers should try to learn something from local legend Kevin Schwantz if they want to grow the sport's popularity.

An unabashed fan of the past days of grand prix racing and someone who has opined to The Race in the past that he believes he arrived in the premier class a few decades too late given how PR-controlled he feels modern MotoGP is, Acosta is perhaps an unsurprising vessel for the suggestion that the modern grid has become somewhat boring.

Pedro Acosta, Tech3 Gas Gas, MotoGP

He made the statement while sitting alongside world champions Marc Marquez, Pecco Bagnaia and Fabio Quartararo in Thursday’s pre-event press conference at the Circuit of the Americas after being asked for his thoughts on 1993 world champion Schwantz.

“For me, we need more people like him,” said 19-year-old Acosta, who would go on to impress again in practice the following day to continue what has been a phenomenal start to his MotoGP career.

“I’m not talking about riding, I’m not talking about competition.

"I think we miss this.

“I don’t have a clear idea [what should change] and I don’t think anyone can be like him because if so it would be easy. But we need to be more natural, more like before.

Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa, MotoGP

“But like 10 years ago, to have a character like Casey [Stoner], like Dani [Pedrosa]. Not everyone in the same way.

"But it is what it is and I’m not going to change anything.”

The Texan icon

Kevin Schwantz

Only a single-time world champion after a career marred by injuries that eventually forced him to retire at the peak of his form in 1995, it’s fair to say that Schwantz’s impact on the sport has been substantially greater than his results -and that's largely due to the Texan native’s gregarious personality.

Outspoken off the track and aggressive on it in the midst of arguably the premier class’ most competitive time, battles against racers like Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan and bitter rival/compatriot Wayne Rainey helped propel Schwantz to huge popularity.

Perhaps best encapsulated by his iconic ‘see God, then brake’ line used to describe his riding style, no shortage of time spent off the track engaging with both fans and media played an equally important role in making Schwantz the favourite rider of many of the modern era of MotoGP racer.

Kevin Schwantz

And Acosta’s words about what MotoGP needs from its riders is something that also rings true for Schwantz himself.

“You get that so predictable speech,” the Texan said in an exclusive conversation with The Race.

"Questions and answers, and nothing off the cuff anymore. I think fans can see that and ask ‘why is it so dictated how you answer things and how you have to be so politically correct?’

“Let’s create some animosity between two or three of them. It makes the racing so much better, it makes everything so much more exciting. The fans all get their favourites.

Kevin Schwantz

“There’s a bunch of good guys out there, a bunch of great racers. Bagnaia has been a great world champion, Marc is maybe back to being a world champion again.

"But they’re pretty generic across the board and it’s good to see Pedro there.”

Acosta himself had already spoken of the importance of that "animosity" and showbiz that Schwantz talked about.

Pedro Acosta, KTM, Moto2

And he backed it up with action, too - the most notable example of this so far being when he 'delivered' a pizza to Marc VDS mechanics (the team of title rival Tony Arbolino) as part of his Moto2 win celebrations at Mugello.

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