MotoGP 'needs' rivalry between Yamaha's Vinales and Honda's Marquez

Motorcycle racing legend Kevin Schwantz believes a rivalry between reigning champion Marc Marquez and Yamaha recruit Maverick Vinales is "exactly what MotoGP needs"

MotoGP 'needs' rivalry between Yamaha's Vinales and Honda's Marquez

Vinales impressed with Suzuki in his first two MotoGP campaigns, and has joined Yamaha in 2017 to replace the Ducati-bound Jorge Lorenzo.

The Spaniard dominated winter testing and won last weekend's Qatar Grand Prix season opener, becoming the first man since Casey Stoner in 2011 to win on his debut with a new team.

Schwantz had a fierce rivalry with fellow American Wayne Rainey in the 500cc era that culminated in Rainey's career-ending accident and Schwantz's championship win in 1993, and he believes Vinales and Marquez could write their own significant chapter in MotoGP.

"Mav [Vinales] being 22 and Marc being 24 and both being Spanish, you could definitely see that developing, maybe into a Schwantz v Rainey rivalry," Schwantz told Autosport.

"It could go on for six or eight seasons and if they can put up those kinda battles with some other strong riders in there too, that's exactly what the sport needs."

Vinales claimed his maiden premier class victory at Silverstone last September, on his way to fourth in the championship.

He admits that "working to win is totally different" to his two seasons with Suzuki, and has accepted the pressure that comes with being favourite for the title in many quarters.

Schwantz believes he is equipped to make the most of his Yamaha switch. "I think Maverick has a pretty smart head on his shoulders," he said.

"And I'm sure the team is going to be telling him every weekend, time and time again, 'This racing is about the championship and if we're a little bit off this weekend, just get what you can get. Don't go out and sling your bike down the road trying to make a 10th-place bike run up front.'

"As long as someone really takes Vinales under their wing, as long as he has a mentor, I think he'll do well.

"It is a much tougher battle when you're on a really competitive bike, right at the front, and weekend in, weekend out, your side of the garage and the other side of the garage is one of the fastest bikes on track.

"You've got to try and keep yourself consistently there and to do that and race for the championship, you have to have that championship perspective.

"If you don't have it, you've got to learn it.

"But Maverick is pretty solid in his mind, so I hope he does what we all think he can do."

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