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6 Keys to the German GP by... Kevin Schwantz

Unlocking the big headlines of the day with 1993 500 World Champion Kevin Schwantz

After an intriguing opening day at the Pramac Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland, MotoGP™ Legend Kevin Schwantz tells us his six key points to keep an eye on over the weekend. 

1. Pedrosa's retirement

"The weekend starts with Dani announcing his retirement. At the end of the season he’ll have had 13 years in the premier class, he should be proud of his very long and productive career. Okay, he hasn’t won a world championship in “the big class” in MotoGP but he’s won a lot of races. He won a 125 and two 250 World Championships.

Watch Dani Pedrosa's retirement announcement in full

"Unfortunately, the sport looks back at ‘did you win a world championship or not’ and that’s not the way things should be judged. Has he been there? Has he been committed? Has he given 100%? Has he pushed every chance he had? He’s done everything he could. He’s been a little bit unlucky and, as a racer, you want to be more lucky than you are good. You’ve got to be in the right place at the right time, not in the wrong place. It’s just racing. That’s the way things come down."

2. Marquez' dominance at the Sachsenring

"This is another place just like Austin. Marc Marquez has won every time he’s raced here whether it’s 125, Moto2 or MotoGP. He didn’t race in all those classes in Austin but he’s won all 6 races in Austin. He’s been on pole position every time, so, as a competitor of Marc, you’re scratching your head this weekend, wondering how do I beat him? How do I get to him? How do I get into his head so that I make him make a mistake? And, really, that’s about all you can hope to do. It looked like from about the third lap of practice he had about half a second on everybody and then he worked a bit more, and he worked a bit more, and then some of the other guys came in and put new tires on but he still finished second or third.

Stoner's advice: "Marc needs to pay attention to crashes"

"So, I think Marc’s going to be hard to beat and I think, really, the only threat to Marc will be Marc. It’s like we’ve always seen; if he can stay upright and realizes that as he starts to build a lead, he starts to just back of the pace a little bit, I think it’s going to be hard to beat him."

3. Ducati's surprising Friday pace

"It’s interesting, to me, to see this weekend that the Ducatis - Lorenzo, Dovi and Petrucci, all 3 - are right near the front in that second practice, so there’s kind of a mix of names that are, right now, qualified for Q2, so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out in qualifying. We dodged the rain that was here and I think it’s going to be a great weekend."

Surprises at the Sachsenring! Ducatis dominate day 1

4. Can Suzuki and Rins get another podium?

"I hope the Suzuki does well, Rins is really maturing as a rider. It’s really easy for him to be intimidated by somebody in the garage going as fast as he does – or even a little bit faster. He’s realised that we’re not going to have the right setup on the bike all the time. We’re going to have to work and continue to work all weekend long and, hopefully, on Sunday morning, we’ll make a few changes. Add a little bit of this, a little bit of that and we’ll have a race bike that’s really nice, just like it was in Assen. With that we saw what Alex Rins is capable of.

"He was fifth, sixth or seventh with just three laps to go and he ended up in a dominating second position at the end, making a big move under Maverick on that big left-hand corner. It’s so scary, especially late in the race when there’s not a lot of grip but Suzuki continues to improve; the bike, the team and everybody involved. I’ll look for big things from Alex and his new teammate next year."

5. Rossi and the Yamaha's setup 

"17th is pretty far back for Vale. Maybe in FP2 he just decided to ride around, try old tyres and see if he could make things work. I think he actually came in and put some tyres on and, after that, came in about 10th or so, which is where he normally floats around on a Friday. It still seems that the Yamaha is a finicky little machine. Everybody’s getting so much out of the bikes now. Every bike is just stretched to the maximum and then every rider is really having to work on their own setup to try and get the maximum out of the bike, so maybe the Yamaha has just got a little bit of sensitivity to it.

All the data on Rossi's bike screen

"That’s what I always thought about the Suzuki. At 98% correctly setup, the Suzuki was a great bike and you could win races on it but at 96 percent, you were lucky to be in the top 7. So, it’s that fine line, you’ve got to be close to perfect to be able to race and race near the front. If it’s just a little bit off, you can’t even see the front by the time we get to mid-race."

6. Zarco's disappointing form

"Zarco’s performances seem to have deteriorated since he announced he will move to KTM in Le Mans. I never tried to leave Suzuki and never said I was leaving Suzuki and give the team the opportunity to say ‘oh well, you’re not going to be here next year, we’re just going to quit working for you.’ I doubt that’s happening at Tech 3, I know Hervé and those guys run a first-class operation but I don’t know. Has he lost focus? Is he thinking too much about what the next year is going to be like? Is he thinking if he made the right decision? Is he second guessing himself now and that’s what’s de-tuning him a bit?

"So much of racing a Grand Prix bike is the rider. It’s what’s between your ears. Okay, you could be on the best bike or the worst bike but when the field is within 2 seconds, the rider’s so capable of making that gap up. I think, if you’re not 100 percent confident and you’re not out there charging every lap at maximum, you’re not going to learn setups. You’re not going to get the feeling for what the bike’s going to do in race distance. You need to try the bike full of fuel. There’s just so much to take into consideration and just a little bit of distraction could put you fourth or fifth row pretty easily."