In the second excerpt from his book: Moto GP a photographic celebration, Phil Wain concentrates on those brutal rivalries that pushed past the politeness of the sport and accelerated it to another level.
When Wayne Rainey and Kevin Schwantz went racing, they were hell-bent on beating each other. And when they brought their rivalry to the 500cc world championship, Rainey joining Kenny Roberts’ Lucky Strike Yamaha team and Schwantz spearheading Suzuki’s full-time return to the class, it set the scene for six glorious years of nail-biting riding.
Rainey already had a Grand Prix season behind him, ﬁnishing eighth in the 1984 250cc class, but 1988 was a learning year for both him and Schwantz – 1988 had indicated what lay ahead as Schwantz sensationally won ﬁrst time out in Japan, and again in Germany, Rainey taking victory in the UK, when he became the ﬁrst rider to win with carbon brakes.
A year later, Rainey almost won the world title, leading from rounds two to 13 but just missing out to Eddie Lawson. Meanwhile, Schwantz won six of the 15 races, more than any other rider that year. However, he crashed when leading a number of others as he pushed the RGV Suzuki over the edge. This was a trait that stayed with him for a number of years.
Read more and view more images in the March/April 2019 issue of CR – on sale now!