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Rainey: “One mistake will probably cost them the title”

Rainey: “One mistake will probably cost them the title”

Triple 500cc World Champion Wayne Rainey talks about the title battle between Lorenzo and Rossi, without forgetting Marquez.

Throughout his illustrious career in the 500cc World Championship between 1988 and 1993, Wayne Rainey won three straight world titles, matching the achievement of his mentor and team boss Kenny Roberts a decade earlier.

During his time Rainey has been in similar same situations to Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, coming out victorious but also seeing the championship slip away.

In 1989 Rainey was leading the championship until late in the season, defeated by Eddie Lawson in the final rounds with Lawson claiming his fourth and final 500cc crown.

The 1990 season saw Rainey lead from start to finish, then in 1991 he defeated Mick Doohan at the end of the season. However, 1992 would produce an agonizing season for the pair as both the American and Australian battled through injuries. Rainey would claim the 1992 title only at the last race in South Africa despite Doohan’s seriously injured leg.

Rainey’s last season would be 1993, the Yamaha rider entered the final races with the championship lead over Kevin Schwantz but tragedy would strike as Rainey fell in Misano, severely injuring his spinal cord and ending his racing career.

The American remains one of the most beloved and respected 500cc champions, Rainey recently spoke with and gave his view on the 2015 MotoGP™ World Championship battle.

“It's quite different now than it was in 1989,” he begun. “That was my second year in Grand Prix and my first year as the leader of a factory team, so it's quite different than what Rossi and Lorenzo are going through at the moment. Rossi has nine championships at the moment and Jorge has already been a World Champion many times. I was basically in my second year and I was racing against a three-time World Champion in the prime of his career. We were also racing against Honda at that stage so it was me, Yamaha and Kenny Roberts against Eddie and the might of Honda. They were also racing on Michelin tyres and I had Dunlop tyres. So it was completely different.”

“Eddie was chipping back away at my points lead as they got their bike more dialed in. In the end, I think it basically came down to tyres and it came down to my inexperience, which cost me the championship that year.”

The Current Situation

“Now here's Rossi and Lorenzo. Both are riding for Yamaha, both are on Bridgestone, both are multiple World Champions and they are on the same team, same exact equipment, tyres and bikes. So it is a lot different.”

“It's going to come down to both knowing right now that if one makes a mistake it will probably cost them the championship. They have to keep pushing to force each other to make a mistake. I think that’s what it's going to come down to. I don't think it will come down to bar banging. It will come down to somebody making a mistake.”

“Of course Rossi is not thinking, ‘I was leading the World Championship and Lorenzo has overhauled me.’ I think Rossi is right where he wants to be and ahead of where he thought he would be. Lorenzo has pace and experience and determination. Rossi just has a lot of desire at the moment. Which one will win out? If I was a betting man, I would have to lean toward Lorenzo because of pure pace, but in motorcycling racing it doesn't always go to the fastest guy. It could be a wet race, anything can happen. Lorenzo gets excellent starts, which gets him out of trouble. Rossi needs to get better starts. These races can be won in the first laps, you have to go win them from the start.”

Losing The Lead

"When you are behind, you’re chasing the guy, trying to run him down. In 1992, Mick Doohan was dominant and then he injured himself, which opened the door back up for me. There were five or six races with him not there and it was like racing a ghost. I’d call Mick Doohan and go, ‘Well I gained 20 points on you, how you feeling? Hope you can make it back.’ That was a different type of championship.”

“But it was a case of how you have to never give up and fight to the end. At that point I was able to come back and win by a couple of points. You have to fight to the very end. It’s never over until it’s mathematically over at the very end.”

“In 1993, I faced Kevin Schwantz and he was a rider who had changed his approach. I thought he was more mature rider and his win at all cost mentality changed in 1993. He was a tougher opponent. We were able to peg back the lead and actually take over the lead because at Donington Park he had 11 points on me going into that race and on the first lap he got taken out by Doohan and I went on to get second place and was able to take over the lead. I won the next race and then had my accident.”

“I think with these guys [Rossi and Lorenzo], I don’t think it affects them so much. They are basically looking at it that we're tied with seven races yet. I have to beat him more than he beats me in seven races. There’s a lot of racing, a lot of riding, a lot of things that can happen. This thing is not over by a long shot.”

“There’s also the Marquez factor. Yamaha is trying to keep these guys from not letting Marquez back in. Race each other, but don’t take each other out and then Marquez is back in there. Until Marquez is eliminated from the championship, the gloves won’t come off. When he is out of it completely, maybe then the gloves will come off.”

MotoGP, 2015, OCTO BRITISH GRAND PRIX, Jorge Lorenzo, Wayne Rainey, Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez

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