MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Are Márquez and Dovizioso the new Schwantz and Rainey?
The reigning world champion and world number two have given us much entertainment over the past year and a half, but can they ever match the thrill of watching Schwantz and Rainey?
Someone in Sunday’s post-race media conference asked Marc Márquez and Andrea Dovizioso if they are the Kevin Schwantz and Wayne Rainey of today. This was a good question, especially after that last-lap slugging match, which brought back memories of the greatest last-lap shootout between the two Americans, who had made Grand Prix racing their own in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Sure, it’s a stretch to compare the epic 4.2-mile lightning-fast blast that was Hockenheim with the mundane asphalt doodle that is Buriram, but here goes…
It’s May 1991, and this is Schwantz’s and Rainey’s second visit to Hockenheim. They are still deadly rivals who mostly care about beating each other rather than winning races. This time, it’s both.
It’s the final lap and the pair are way ahead of the pack, playing scary slipstream games through the deep, dark forest that surrounds much of the ancient German venue.
Both of them know exactly what’s coming: Hockenheim’s long forest loop ends with a sixth-gear straight, then a 90-degree right-hander that takes them into the final section, overlooked by vast concrete grandstands, packed with noisy Germans.
There are no supersized TV screens to tell the fans what’s happening; all they know is what they can hear: the staccato scream of the commentator and the baleful roar of two high-geared 500s in a crescendo, stretched as far as they’ll go in sixth gear.
What happens next is the stuff of racing legend – one of the greatest overtakes of all time – though, as always, there’s a wee gap between myth and reality.
Reigning world champion Rainey is leading, Schwantz wedged tightly into his draft, sucking on the Yamaha’s exhaust fumes. The leader sits up to brake, impossibly late. Schwantz jumps to Rainey’s right and hauls on his brakes; his Suzuki’s rear end skittering this way and that, the rear tyre tapping out Morse code on the asphalt as he stamps on the brake. He is out of control. Will they both go down?
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.