MotoGP, Lawson: “After the third title, Ago lied to me about the budget and switched to Honda”

The interview with Eddie Lawson which appeared on the MotoStarr YouTube channel continues. You can find the first part HERE. Eddie gives his opinion on whether or not the young American drivers can have a say in the 2021 World Championship.

“You wish the best and you hope the best (for Joe Roberts and Cameron Beaubier, Note d. Red.), But I don’t know, it’s so much the team and the bike now. When we rode the 500s, you could just take a bad bike and go forward with it. Today I think that would be difficult to do so hopefully they have the right equipment to get them there. “

Lawson: “Roberts was instrumental in getting me to Europe, he said to me: I think you are ready. Then I tested the 500 in Laguna …”

Lawson found him on his 500cc debut in 1983. Thanks to Kenny Roberts …

“Kenny was instrumental in bringing me to Europe. He said to me: I think you are ready for the 500s. I thought it was me until I drove 500! It scared me to death. We drove to Laguna and I drove a 500: I hit the gas, it just went up, I hit the gas, hit the brakes and my head went into a bubble. I thought, ‘I signed a two-year contract to ride this bike, but there’s no way I can know how to ride it’. But Kenny said, “You can do this, so come over”. Basically, he took me under his wing. Kenny is great, he always messes with you and jokes, but when it comes to 500 and it’s serious he’s never held anything back. When we did debriefing, he brought me along and that sped up your learning curve. We came in after the workout, Kenny said, “I want the stern to be lowered five mils, I want the compression to be two clicks, third gear to be down, 50 revs. I didn’t know about it, so I started to find out. “

Then Kenny left and went to the other side of the fence as a team manager …

A rare smile appears on Awesome Lawson’s face, revealing exactly why he left the Agostini team in late 1988 …

Lawson: “Agostini told me Marlboro cut the budget so I switched to Honda halfway through”

“We had just won the championship in 1988 and Ago came up to me and said Marlboro had cut its budget so I can’t pay you what I paid you last year. I said but we won the championship! So I flew to Lausanne (Philip Morris HQ), walked right into the building and asked them why they cut his budget. They said, ‘but we doubled his budget!’ So I went and drove half for Honda. I’m glad I did, Erv (Kanemoto) was fun to work with, he was a great guy. “

It was 1989. Eddie also won that world championship on the NSR 500. He was the first to win two consecutive seasons on two different motorcycles.

Lawson: “In 1989, Honda built 13 chassis in 15 races. I told them: The gearbox sucks, they’ll have a new one in two weeks.”

“The Yamaha and Honda were completely different, but the NSR was a good bike. Gardner and Doohan did the bike really badly and Honda thought it was impossible to ride but I thought it was great. You worked hard and drove 13 chassis and 15 races. And the engine was amazing. When they said what are some of the things the Honda does that the Yamaha doesn’t and vice versa? The first thing I said was that the gearbox sucks, they looked like ‘what?’ In two weeks I had the best transmission I’ve ever driven. Honda R&D spent a million dollars, the auto department actually did it. We had an elevator shift, it was like an automatic transmission. Honda had the budget, they just wanted to win. They told me that what we did set the stage for their next generation of NSR. “

Nevertheless, Lawson moved again in late 1989 and returned to Yamaha.

Lawson: “I won the title but Honda didn’t want to pay me more than Gardner out of loyalty, so I left them”

“Honda came and said they couldn’t pay me more than Gardner: even though he didn’t pay anything, it was a matter of loyalty, they said. But Phillip Morris was triple even though I didn’t want to leave Erv. I was run over in the first race and broke one ankle and in the second race at Laguna I broke the other ankle. I’ve been out for over half a season.

And so Eddie was targeted by Cagiva …

“Lawson:” With the Cagiva I won in Hungary thanks to stupid luck, it rained, I started with cut slicks “

“I moved to Cagiva the next year. I was ready to retire; I’d had almost ten years of it. When they asked me what it cost, I said, firstly, a lot of money, but secondly, you have to promise that you will improve. And they really stepped up the journey. They had a helicopter waiting for me and at LAX they would take me to my driveway and drop me off. I Signed a two-year contract, we worked hard, the bike still wasn’t there, but it got better. The engine was super heavy and lacked lower and middle power, the upper power was good. I won a race in Hungary, but it was bad luck: I drove on some tires that nobody else wanted. It was actually raining, I was riding on cut slicks. Ago yelled at me on the line: ‘You can’t drive these tires’: I told him to piss off we put them on, around the middle of the race it started to dry out and I caught up with them five seconds per lap. It was different working with the Italians at the time they were supported by Ferrari that the technology was good and bad because they didn’t know about motorcycles. We got there and at the end of my two years they needed two more, but the motorcycle was with the Japanese. “

(Sequel follows)