Wel­come

Higher-archy

Classic Racer - - REGULAR PADDOCK GOSSIP -

Years ago I was in­ter­view­ing the leg­endary Mick Doohan. At the time, the Aussie was pretty much at the height of his power. Doohan was, out­wardly, in com­mand and harshly hon­est – not only about him­self but about the other rid­ers in GP500S. I found that re­fresh­ing.you asked Mick a solid ques­tion and you got a solid an­swer. A col­league of mine once asked Mick if he thought that GPS were get­ting bor­ing to watch just be­cause the Honda man was clear­ing off and win­ning races by huge mar­gins. “What do you want me to do? Slow down?” Mick replied to the ques­tion. He had a point. Could Mick Doohan have had the same sort of suc­cess were he to have left Honda and rid­den for a ri­val fac­tory ef­fort? Pos­si­bly. Prob­a­bly. As a rider Mick was fear­less and think­ing.the huge raft of work that he car­ried out de­vel­op­ing the NSR500 into pedi­gree fac­tory ma­chine (and when I say pedi­gree I mean ‘pedi­gree’ – you know the sort of bike; flighty, snappy, fast-but-be-wary-of-it) wasn’t by mis­take. You know the old say­ing ‘the harder I worked the luck­ier I was’?that ap­plied to Doohan and his tech­ni­cians. Clever peo­ple who over­came me­chan­i­cal and phys­i­cal hur­dles to put the Honda on top of the podium. Don’t be­lieve that? How many oth­ers dom­i­nated the se­ries on NSRS? Ex­actly. But what I like best about Doohan was that, be­hind the outer shell, was a de­cent guy who just wanted to turn up and go fast. If you wanted to take away his world ti­tle then, boy, did you have to step up to the plate. Go and take on Doohan. Be pre­pared for a scrap. Look away for a sec­ond and the King would have you with a snap of the right wrist and a whole load of scream­ing from the Big Bang fac­tory ma­chine. Doohan was the archetype of the era. A brusque, bril­liant rider who suf­fered no fools. The old 500s were nasty mo­tor­cy­cles that hurt as much as they thrilled. And for one man to dom­i­nate the nas­ti­est pe­riod of rac­ing his­tory (where the nas­ti­est bikes of all lived) is leg­end enough. But we fan­cied put­ting some meat on the bones of Doohan’s devel­op­ment tale. Hence our ar­ti­cle on page 26. I hope you en­joy it.

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