people power

"The local PR company forgot to give journalists any microphones so, while Kevin with his mike had some chance of competing with the announcements, the journalists had no hope of their questions being heard. Kevin ended up sitting on the edge of the stage face to face, much cosier hut hardly what the agency had in mind."

"Anyway, the day went from bad to worse. They then abandoned Kevin and I, standing there in our team gear, with no money and no way of getting back to the hotel. We were on the pavement trying to flag a cab with Kevin surrounded by a about 100 screaming Malaysian school kids. As we edged out into the road the kids went with us and blocked the road without us getting a cab.

Finally, having stopped the traffic for a while we got a ride from a cabbie only on the promise of double fare rates."

"When you consider the degree of focusing and aggression that is necessary to do what he does for a living I think his patience is astounding. He does press conferences where he is asked the same question by ten different journalists that have decided it is their question and they aren't going to be put off by the fact that somebody has already asked it."

"But it must be said that he doesn't suffer fools readily. You can see him wanting to get up and grab them by the neck at times but on most occasions he just gives them a bit of a look and a very short answer. Usually manages to get the rest of the audience laughing because he has a very sharp wit."

"An example of that was in the Press conference after the German Grand Prix a journalist jumped in and asked Shinichi Itoh what it was like to do 200mph. Itoh struggled a little to formulate an answer so Kevin jumped in with 'How would he know he had his eyes closed.'

"You can see he gets very frustrated with people continually asking for autographs. He does it with much better grace than he used to. I don't know whether it was partly shyness, annoyance or what but he would never actually look at people for whom he was signing autographs."

 

The pressure on Kevin to appear at functions and to sign autographs every time he is recognised increases all the time. As World Champion he must expect it to be even greater but as Garry points out he did not need to be champion to be popular.

"I think that Kevin has been the star of the sport for a number of years. You can't say that three times World Champion Wayne Rainey hasn't been a star but in terms of personality Kevin stands out far and above anyone since Randy and I would say he is a far bigger star now than Randy was. I think Randy needed to remain competitive for a little bit longer before becoming the clown and the showman.

 

"I feel that Kevin has generated a special mix of success and fun. His riding style is what motivates the fans because he looks as though he is giving 100% all the time. Some riders like Wayne Rainey are obviously giving 100% but their riding style is no where near as exuberant. The fans like the fact that Kevin obviously enjoys life."

"He has added things to the sport, little things like standing up on the foot pegs and thrusting his hands up and down, they are amazing displays of expression of joy. It is infectious and people relate to it, it certainly beats seeing Ayrton Senna doing a victory laps with a couple of fingers waving out of the cockpit if you are lucky. He hardly compares with Kevin break dancing on an RG5OO."

Being World Champion may not make him significantly more popular but it is going to place added demands and responsibility on him. "I think he will be a great World Champion because he passionately enjoys the sport and when you see him talking to camera he knows what they want, he's the master of the one liner quotes for journalists, he's a personality and he is fun."

 

""One of his passionate interests is rider safety. That is where Kevin will take up some of the void left by Wayne Rainey as the number one rider in the paddock. I've always supported Kevin unquestioningly on safety issues because he's one of the bravest men I've ever met. If he says that such and such a race track is too dangerous then its too dangerous. Kevin understands his responsibility on that and we'll see Kevin involved far more in the future."

One of his passionate interests is rider safety. That is where Kevin will take up some of the void left by Wayne Rainey as the number one rider in the paddock. I've always supported Kevin unquestioningly on safety issues because he's one of the bravest men I've ever met. If he says that such and such a race track is too dangerous then its too dangerous. Kevin understands his responsibility on that and we'll see Kevin involved far more in the future."

Making time for people is one of the reasons why Kevin is so popular within the paddock as well as within the sport at large.

 

There will inevitably be even more people looking up to Kevin and looking to him for advice. "One of the things that has always impressed me is the amount of time Kevin has for other riders. Many riders, especially the younger or the up and coming ones are frightened to talk to him. Less so now, but he does exude this kind of force field around him and it can he daunting, in fact he has always been very open and willing to give quite a lot of time to other riders, to give them advice and even show them lines around the circuit, getting them to follow him. I think that is the mark of a truly unselfish sportsman."

Making time for people is one of the reasons why Kevin is so popular within the paddock as well as within the sport at large. Though he does not suffer fools his feelings for people very rarely rise above a dislike, the same goes for those he competes against. "I don't think Kevin hates anyone. Kevin has riders he likes riding with and those that he doesn't particularly like dicing with because be doesn't trust them, but he still respects any other rider out there."

Kevin has a large circle of friends both inside and outside the paddock but there are few who know him on a truly intimate level. "He has always been a very difficult man to know. Even now, having worked with him for a number of years I know him far better than I did but I don't think anyone other than his family have got in behind the final draw bridge, the final barrier."

"He has certainly mellowed in the last couple of years. Or mellowed sounds almost negative, I don't mean it that way. His approach has changed to the extent that he has won a World Championship. I think that perhaps the desperation to win each individual race has been tempered and he has realised that points make prizes and consistency is what it is all about."

"He has got this wonderful guard system, whereby because he plays the clown, the playboy and the joker, a lot of people underestimate his intelligence. He's got a razor sharp mind and a memory that IBM would like to harness. He is far sharper than the image he likes to put out and he often likes to use that tool on people and see how sincere they are and how professional."

"Kevin was asked once 'what would you be if you hadn't been a road racer?' and he said, 'Useless' But that is rubbish, I don't think he would have been at all, Kevin has the intelligence to succeed in any form of communication, it could have been in advertising or promotion or as an entrepreneur, he has that flare."

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