Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Are Márquez and Dovizioso the new Schwantz and Rainey?

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.

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Total votes: 13
Total votes: 15

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Comments

Schwantz was the wild child to Rainey's relative steadiness. Schwantz probably would not have won a 500 title if Rainey hadn't gotten hurt. Marquez is a wild child who does nothing but wins titles. Dovi, while a competent racer, has had #1 hardware a number of times in his life and has never delivered the goods, and I doubt he ever will. Journalists need talking points to sell ink, no? Ok, I get that, but to suggest this comparison, from someone that knows racing, is a bit disingenious. 

Total votes: 28

Believe this question was first posed by a journalist at the post-race press conference in Buriram, not Mat Oxley?

I believe mtiberio is correct that it's a bit disingenuous. Marquez vs. Dovizioso is just that, and to compare them to Schwantz and Rainey does disservice to them all.

Total votes: 27

Schwantz probably would not have won a 500 title if Rainey....    for heaven's sake, Schwantz would have been miles in front on points when Rainey got hurt if Doohan hadn't knocked Kevin off and cracked his wrist several races before Rainey crashed.  Swings and round abouts.  

Total votes: 17

Hmmm, didn't remember that fact, good catch. While coloring my assertion, it doesn't refute the gist.

Total votes: 17

it might suit space-filling on the MotoGP website but can’t see the point of expanding it further? Matt’s one of my admired journos, must’ve had some airport terminal time.

But if you’re comparing them to Hartle & McIntyre, now you’re talking............zzz

Total votes: 17

Of corse Hartle & McIntyre raced Nortons when the TT was part of the world championship. When my father in law was visiting the Isle of Man & the races in the UK. Before I was born, I remember Ron Haslam, Kenny Blake, Phil McCallen, Joey & extended family and McPint. I was lucky enough to meet John McGuiness, shake his hand & compare scars. Love the TT .

Thanks for inspiring a bit more research funsize, always good to learn a bit more history.

Total votes: 21

..and possibly a little sarcastic regarding the futility of comparing from different eras! Sure, Hartle and McIntyre raced together but rivalry? Haven’t got a clue! ;-)

Total votes: 18

When Schwantz pulled off the Hockenheim pass, I was 10 years old and was expressly forbidden to ride motorcycles, so I can't really say I know from watching the rivalry develop.  But from what I've read, they hated each other, and that genuine bad blood is missing between Marquez and Dovi.  There's no way to compare them, unless this is just limited to the contrasting riding styles.  Then, maybe.

Total votes: 24

Dovizioso is Gibernau [or maybe Biaggi, if you're being generous] to Marquez's Rossi

 

Total votes: 17

The question was asked by Mela Chércoles who, in addition to being one od the best Spanish journalists, is a rabid but fair Schwantz fan.  What was interesting was that Marc said in a two-parts answer..."Now I am Schwantz with the bike so out of control" and added later "but I want to be Rainey."  Marc, if he is Schwantz, has not yet found his Rainey-like rival. Dovi is good but his stats are way off Marc´s and Marc is the younger man. Maybe Lorenzo. Those Schwantz-Rainey battles were so good, I hope someone does emerge to truly challenge Marc because right now he is starting to put up Doohan-like numbers.

Total votes: 10

The Dovizioso-Marquez rivalry is more like Gibernau-Rossi than Schwantz-Rainey

Total votes: 14