Rossi vs Stoner. Not a ‘real’ rivalry says Schwantz

Kevin Schwantz compares the current MotoGP rivalry to his past with Wayne Rainey

AS rivalries go Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner is nothing in comparison to the career-long battle between Kevin Schwantz and Wayne Rainey, in the opinion of the 1993 500GP champion.

Alongside the championships won, the rivalry between Schwantz and Rainey would define their careers. The pair were an absolute opposite of one another, the fierce determination and smoothness of Rainey against the wild and far-out Schwantz. They hated each other with a passion on the track, look to the Transatlantic races as an example with Schwantz on a Suzuki GSX-R750 and Rainey on a Honda VFR750.

In regards to the modern-day rivalry, the story stems from the Corkscrew clash at Laguna Seca in 2008 and was reignited after the coming together in turn one at Jerez this season.

In a lengthy discussion on Sport Rider, Schwantz started: “I don’t think it’s a proper rivalry. I think that incident in Jerez has made it this, ‘Ooh man, there’s this huge rivalry there.’ Valentino made a mistake and he admitted to it. Casey continues to kinda dwell on it. I heard Wayne (Rainey) say about rivalries, ‘There has to be one there. It’s like the Max and Valentino rivalry.’ Well, hold on. There isn’t much rivalry there."

Schwantz disagrees with Rainey's statement that the latest rivalry is like Biaggi/Rossi, continuing: “The rivalry is because they’re both Italians, it’s not on the race track. There’s been a few races where Casey and Valentino really raced each other hard. One’s won one time, one’s won a couple of other times.

"I don’t think it’s that Schwantz-Rainey rivalry yet. And if the guys in red get their act together, and Valentino gets a little more competitive motorcycle underneath him, it could turn into that. It’s not right now, I don’t think.”

In comparison of his competitors and present riders, “Somebody recently asked me about all my competitors. I said that was one of things (Eddie) Lawson was good at was whatever he had to do to win. Whether it was befriend you but not really befriend you. And, ‘Hey man, you’re my best buddy.’ But just work everybody against each other.

"I’m not sure that’s exactly what Rossi’s doing, but I think Rossi and just some of the things he’s realized that he can say in the press, he’s got ways of getting into people’s head. He continues to say those little things that eat at you and nag at you and bug you. It’s been proven in the past that Casey can make some mistakes. That’s all he’s got to do is get a small portion of Casey’s head and have him too focused on Valentino. Next thing you know he’s making mistakes.

I think Casey’s a much stronger Casey than he was in 2008. I don’t know that he’s unflappable right now. I think you can still get to him. So it’ll be interesting to watch as the racing progresses this year.”