Rivalries in Motorsports’

Racing and Rivalries go hand-in-hand

To say that Racing can get the blood rushing is an understatement. As an adversarial sport, competitors are always looking to push their own limits along with their machine’s but quite often end up pushing the buttons of their cohorts. Even teammates have their personal disagreements and it is on the tracks that emotions are expressed and the desire to win supersedes any other thought.  Many “enemies” on track may have cordial relationships off track while some banter and bicker at each other but rivalries provide fans with thrilling edge of the seat moments and entertaining comments. In no particular order, we’ve compiled five our of favorite rivalries and hope you enjoyed them as much as we did.

Ayrton Senna & Alain Prost – Formula One

After becoming partners under McLaren in 1988, the pair captured wins in 15 out of 16 titles and hotly contested for the first place both on and off the track. The Frenchman Prost thought of Senna’s approach to racing to be frightening because of the extent he would push his car to while the Brazilian Senna believed that he owed it to himself to exploit every opportunity and gap. Bickering, contract negotiations and refusal to partner up with each other coloured most of their racing years with their relationship on the road to being repaired once Prost retired in 1993. The Senna-Prost rivalry gave F1 fans immense racing entertainment due to the skill of the racers and some infamous collisions coupled with the antics, barbs and criticisms that were regularly traded between them.

Niki Lauda & James Hunt – Formula One

The battle between Niki Lauda, a straight-shooting Austrian and James Hunt, a fiery Englishman gave F1 fans one of the best rivalries of all time. Motivated by each other to give their absolute best on the tracks, the pair traded blows with each of them piloting equally competitive machines in the Ferrari and McLaren. 1975 marked an important year for the rivalry with Lauda surviving a near-fatal accident at the Nürburgring but returning with a vengeance, apparently unwilling to let his rival catch up on the rankings, capturing the podium just six weeks out from the crash. Their complex relationship has been immortalized in the form of a movie, Rush, which is a recommended watch for any motorsport fans

Ford & Ferrari – Le Mans

The rivalry began when Enzo Ferrari rejected Henry Ford II’s offer to take over his company.  Insulted, Henry ordered his racing division to build a machine to defeat Ferrari at Le Mans. The Ford GT40 MK1 was born from the efforts of Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles but were further challenged by issues that arose during testing. Design issues were obvious as at the 1964 24 hours of Le Mans, all three of the newly developed ford cars retired and Ferrari rubbing salt in the wounds with a 1-2-3 finish and a fifth straight win. In 1966, revenge was exacted by the new Mark II GT40s who managed to replicate Ferrari’s 1-2-3 wins and did so for 4 consecutive years. This iconic story has been immortalized in the 2019 movie Ford v Ferrari, a movie we would recommend watching.

Lewis Hamilton & Sebastian Vettel – Formula One

One of F1’s more modern rivalries. Exceptional skills combined with dominant machineries led to back to back titles for Hamilton and Vettel. Passions have always run high between the two world champions with mental warfare being utilized and press conferences suddenly getting a lot more heated, not to mention entertaining. In 2018, the rivalry reached new heights with the Ferrari team upsetting Hamilton’s home crowd by claiming victory and the payback to the humiliation coming from Mercedes’ victories both in front of Vettel’s home crowd and the Tifosi at Ferrari’s Italian playground.

Valentino Rossi & Marc Marquez – MotoGP

Valentino Rossi’s list of rivals span from Max Biaggi, Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo and more recently, Marc Marquez. After moving into the premier division in the beginning of the century, Valentino Rossi began to exert his dominance on the sport winning nine Grand Prix World Championships but was being increasingly challenged by new entrants. With Lorenzo joining as Rossi’s team mate at Yamaha, the duo has been pushing the limits trying to beat each other and with Marquez joining the fray, the competition has only intensified. As of late, Marquez’s rising star is evident and he is one of the most successful motorcycle racers of all time with eight Grand Prix world championships to his name while “The Doctor” continues to single-mindedly attack the curves, often clashing with the Daredevil Spaniard in their quest for gold.

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