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Episode 14 of the MotoGP™ Podcast is now available – and it’s a belter. MotoGP™ Legends Wayne Rainey and Kevin Schwantz give us the inside line on one of the sport’s most intense rivalries as they discuss their greatest battles, the differences between premier class racing then and now and how their fierce competition and hatred has changed into the mutual respect they have today.
“I think rivalry… Kevin and mine was real, it was not made-up, it was, at the beginning of our rivalry together it was not very friendly,” comments Rainey, with Schwantz adding “At the beginning hatred… I think it was… I'll say it and I think he will too!”
“It was, it was difficult… but as we got into the World Championship and you work very hard in this sport, there is only one winner, so fortunately in our era there was other guys that we also had to focus on,” continues Rainey. “Certainly at the end of my racing career, when we went head to head in 1993, I had much more respect from what he was doing. I really thought… what we were to what we are now, you know it was a serious and professional relationship as far as on the track we raced each other. One of the first guys I wanted to beat was him. He raised his game up and really make me work in a different way, which I did not do before.”
And Schwantz shares similar feelings: “I was only ever in one race, and it was against him! It didn’t matter, anybody else could beat me, but to lose to Wayne Rainey was, aaaah a knife in my heart! I could not get over it until the next weekend or the next race, or when it was another practice session. At least I needed to get in front of him in the practice session, everything about the race weekend revolved around whether I could be in front or him or not.
“Sure you could ask the team, if I was able to be in front of him I was okay with everybody around, if I was behind him I was probably using some words I don’t want to repeat. I knew Wayne when I first started racing, watching him, I knew what his accomplishments were. He was the guy I knew I needed to beat if I wanted to go to the next step.”
The duo also chats about how tough it is to hear the Italian and Spanish national anthems week in, week out, with no American national anthem being heard since Ben Spies triumphed at the 2011 Dutch GP.
“Tough? It is what it is right now,” comments Rainey. “The championship in the States… usually, the Americans and the Australians used to come through the US championships which is what the MotoGP paddock looked for. But this has is kind of gone stalemate. The federations in Italy and Spain have invested in their young rider program and we see the benefit of that is now…”
Rainey on now, then, highsides and Schwantz…
For Schwantz, the talent pool in America is as deep as it’s ever been, but a lack of manufacturers support and a pipeline to the World Championships in the US is what the 1993 500cc World Champion thinks is the issue.
“For me, yeah… I would prefer to listen the American national anthem instead of the Spanish or Italian one. Even the Australian! But you know the talent pool in America is as deep as it’s ever been. When he gets this championship back to the right direction… the kids… the next Wayne Rainey, the next Eddie Lawson, the next Kenny junior, Kenny senior, Randy Mamola, myself… they are out there! But we don’t have this opportunity with manufacturers support in our championship here in America, to then have a pipeline to get them off into the World Championships.”
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