Three-time 500cc world champion Wayne Rainey doesn’t believe his arch MotoGP rival Kevin Schwantz gets enough credit for his “tremendous” 1993 title win.
Rainey and Schwantz’s rivalry in the 500cc era of MotoGP in the late 1980s and early 1990s is one of motorcycle racing’s most iconic.
From 1990-1992, Rainey won the premier class crown on his factory Yamaha, before Schwantz guided his Suzuki to the championship in 1993.
Both riders won four races apiece in 1993, with Schwantz standing on the podium in the first nine races.
But the campaign was marred by the tragic accident at Misano three rounds from the end of the season which left Rainey paralysed.
Speaking to Autosport for the 14 January 1991 magazine special about that year’s 500cc campaign and their rivalry, Rainey revealed what he had to do to have an edge over Schwantz and explained that his rival’s title feat deserves more credit as a result.
“I wanted him to give up, and the more I could beat him the more I knew he knew he couldn’t beat me consistently, and that was something I really worked at,” Rainey explained.
“I had my championship run to try to win the championship but I was also trying to get into Kevin’s head, because I thought if Kevin could ever get it together and get his bike sorted out in a way he could ride it consistently, he could be a really big threat to me.
“I treated Kevin as I did my team-mates. The first guy I wanted to beat obviously was my team-mate, other than Kevin, but I knew if I could beat my team-mates, it didn’t matter as long as I was ahead of them.
“Then I couldn’t really blame the bike as much if my team-mate was finishing in front of me.
“I saw that by getting on top of my team-mate and being faster than them throughout testing and seeing what that did to them morally, I knew it would detune them.
“So, that’s what I also tried to do to Kevin, but he was really strong.
“I think he got better as he raced more and more and more against me.
“At the end he pulled it altogether there in ’93 and did a tremendous job. And I think people don’t give him enough credit for that year on such a good job that he did.”
You can read what Rainey and Schwantz had to say about their rivalry in Autosport’s 1991 special issue, available now. Subscribe to Autosport magazine here: www.autosportmedia.com/offer/article