This week in...
Yamaha unleashed the OW01 as WSB took off, and Britain was rocked by Kegworth 737 disaster
1989: Schwantz, speedway and new Ducati Paso
The country was still reeling from the Kegworth air disaster – when a 737 crashed into the M1 as it tried to make an emergency landing at East Midlands Airport. Of the 126 people on board, 47 died.
Margaret Thatcher was celebrating her tenth year as Prime Minister, and World Superbikes was beginning to gain momentum. In its first year, American Fred Merkel took the title, but a certain Mr Michael Doohan had also caused a bit of a stir with three wildcard wins aboard a Yamaha. Merkel would win the WSB title again in 1989.
Yamaha’s OW01 had caused a stir in ’89 and would go on to win many WSB races... but no titles. Honda’s RC30 ruled the roost until Ducati started to take over with its big V-twins.
Doohan signed for Honda in 500 GPS for 1990 and would go on to finish the season ninth, behind Britain’s Niall Mackenzie in seventh and Ron Haslam in eighth. Mackenzie had a factory Marlboro Yamaha and Haslam a works Pepsi Suzuki.
‘Winning the Suzuka GP in 1988 gave Suzuki confidence they shouldn’t have had and put a lot of pressure on me’ KEVIN SCHWANTZ