people power

He finds it easier to accept failure in others than himself. "If Kevin makes a mistake in a race, falls and doesn't finish or just loses a place you don't really want to be around the garage and certainly you wouldn't want to be in his motorhome for a while afterwards. On the other hand on those, luckily few occasions, when the bike lets him down, he's very controlled about it. He's probably less upset about it than the team is. The team is devastated if we let him down but he is the first one to come round and say, 'shit happens, lets go and have a beer, and what are you doing tomorrow, how about a game of golf' "

"I don't think he plans it that way but because Kevin is so understanding and reasonable about those sort of cock-ups everybody feels that much more motivated that they mustn't happen again. If someone is throwing a helmet around the garage, shouting and swearing and causing major dramas that can generate a different less motivated atmosphere."

"Kevin and Stuart have a very interesting relationship because they are not constantly in each other's pockets. They don't, 'hang out' together, they play some golf together and sit down and talk together but its a relationship that works primarily on a professional level."

"It is very successful at that. They meet at the races, they talk in between but they do not feel the need to hang around together as in some rider, chief mechanic relationships."

It is very much as though the 1993 World Championship win was the result of a number of things coming together, not only Shenton joining the team but the bike being right, the whole team providing the right support and Kevin not making any mistakes. To Garry these are all interrelated anyway. "Now we can say openly that in the past he crashed far too much. There were many reasons for that. At the end of the day if a rider crashes, unless there is a mechanical problem, then it is probably due to a rider error. However, that error may well have been forced by the rider having to try that little bit too hard to make up for deficiencies in the machine or settings. Early in Kevin's GP career he had to carry far too much of the weight on his shoulders. Suzuki had been out of GP racing for a couple of years, and we're trying to get back up to speed. I did not have enough experience to help him much or give advice. Whatever be has achieved he certainly did the hard way."

Winning in Macau 1998 A one off ride for Kevin and as Gary Taylor points out it said a good deal about his ability.

"At the time there was a general feeling in the racing world that you were either a GP racer or a road racer i.e. you raced on dedicated race tracks or road courses. The impression everybody had was that you could not be good at both."

"The underlying feeling from the road circuit fans was that GP racers were not "real men". For a Grand Prix rider to race on a circuit such as the side of Man or Macau showed just how brave he was!"

"in general of course it does appear there have been very few riders who successfully have been able to cross between the different disciplines."

"Simon Tonge and I picked up Kevin at the Hydrofoil in Macau and asked him if he wanted to do a lap of the circuit in the rent a car, to see which way it went. Kevin was rather tired from the torturous journey from Texas, and said he would forego the pleasure in favor of a good nights sleep."

"the Macau circuit is probably the nearest thing in motorcycle racing to the Monaco Grand Prix. It runs along the sea front and winds up the hill at the back of the town past all sorts of office blocks etc. By current GP circuit standards its safety is negligible. The race promoter, Mike Trimby, has always made the danger clear to riders, but even he was a little apprehensive about Kevin with his exuberant riding style." " A very bleary eyed Kevin came down for practice in the morning, he did one warm up lap, one complete flying lap and then pitted for minor changes and to make a few comments about the circuit. He was in the middle of explaining to us just what a crazy place it was when we learned that on his only flying lap he had cut 7 seconds off the outright lap record."

"If anyone did anything to silence the pro road circuit brigade it was Kevin that day. Needless to say he went on to win the race very easily, putting on an amazing display of wheelies, bike control and delighting the crowds. He was to say afterwards that al though he enjoyed the race he did not think road racing in the sense was for him, he said it took a very special type of rider to complete at these types of circuits and he thought them extremely brave."

 

Pepsi Suzuki, even the named seemed right, it had the right fizz about it. The image was right but the execution was wrong, ultimately Pepsi were so involved with bigger star attractions like Michael Jackson they failed to make anything like the capital they should have out of their Grand Prix involvement. Picture left is Kevin flashing between Armco barrier and house wall in Macau. The 1988 team line up right shows Garry Taylor standing between Kevin and Rob with the rest of the crew. Below is the blurred Dutch countryside.


There is also the point that Kevin is fitter and perhaps as a result mentally sharper than he was in his early Grand Prix years. "He had the advantage of being naturally fit and having no weight problem. Until he started mountain biking, his training consisted of riding the race bike. I don't think the idea of sitting in the gym and doing loads of reps excites him. The mountain bike though is a new challenge."

 

Perhaps part of the difficulty that Garry felt in his inability to offer the kind of support that Kevin needed earlier in his career is that he certainly doesn't ask for help. "Even after the Donington fiasco he didn't outwardly show his depression. It was only towards the end of the season that we realised that the depression was there and the part that some of us had been able to play in pulling him through. It was so typically Kevin that nobody knew the true extent of his injuries, we knew of the damage to his hand, but because of the way he is we went through Czechoslovakia and Italy without him really letting us know just how much he was suffering."

"People might think that if Kevin trusted his team he would have told us. In retrospect he was right not to tell us because the only way to keep a secret if you want it to be a secret is not to tell anybody! Racing is unfortunately one of those occupations where everybody only tells their best fifty-two friends a secret!"

"With the intensity of the competition for the World Championship we didn't need anybody to know any weaknesses in our battle order."

 

If he's injured and hurting, he doesn't want anyone to know, he's an intensely private man in many areas and he will tell you what he thinks you need to know.

"If he's injured and hurting, he doesn't want anyone to know, he's an intensely private man in many areas and he will tell you what he thinks you need to know. I can clearly remember sitting in his motorhome at Misano, the evening after Rainey's crash. We didn't at this time think we were on the eve of the dream coming true and winning the World Championship. We were all totally deflated and nobody actually wanted to talk about Wayne. While we were at Misano we really didn't know the extent of his injuries other than that it was severe. We thought that he was probably going to miss at least the next race possibly the rest of the season. It only became clear the next day just how bad things were."

"I think we all still can't come to terms with the consequences of the accident. The accident itself was just a racing accident. Had Wayne got up and walked away everyone would have said, 'core, he made a mistake, that was very un-Rainey like.' From what we could see he was racing his team mate and he didn't really need to, he just needed to finish in front of Kevin. The outcome was so horrible that it will leave an impression on everybody. Wayne had dominated the sport for so long and was the standard by which we had to be judged."

"Wayne Rainey and Team Roberts are the most successful team in recent history that everybody else had to shoot for. In many different areas of riding ability and professionalism and technical ability they kept lifting the game and raising the anti. The loss of Wayne Rainey as a rider is a major blow to our sport. However, he is a determined, intelligent and respected man. I really hope it will not be long before we see him back in the paddock. Team Roberts will recover, Kenny is a born leader and he will always extract the best from the people around him."

"It will be interesting to see how he motivates himself now without Wayne to race against. Kevin will be the first to agree that Wayne was one of the real motivating characters because there was such strong rivalry. Rivalry that ended up as friendship but was still extreme rivalry.

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