Mike Dow­son

Fast and safe

Old Bike Australasia - - NEWS - Story Des Lewis Pho­tos John Ford, Mal Pit­man, OBA ar­chives.

Mike Dow­son stood at the top of the podium at Tsukuba Cir­cuit in Ja­pan, hav­ing just rid­den the race of his life. He looked down at the huge crowd that had gath­ered for the pre­sen­ta­tion. This should have been a high­light for Dow­son. He’d just blown away the top in­ter­na­tional Su­per­bike rid­ers, in­clud­ing re­cently crowned 1991 World Cham­pion, Doug Polen, in his first out­ing on a bike he’d led the de­vel­op­ment of for Kawasaki.

In­stead of feel­ing eu­phoric, he was ex­hausted. Not from the day’s race, but from en­dur­ing the most frus­trat­ing two years of his ca­reer where he felt ham­strung by mis­man­age­ment, un­ful­filled prom­ises and lack of com­mit­ment by the par­ent com­pany. Sure, he’d made an em­phatic point to Kawasaki Heavy In­dus­tries af­ter de­vel­op­ing the bike with his own satel­lite team, but the taste in his mouth was bit­ter. He felt it was time to part.

He peeled off his leathers and rid­ing gear, and threw them all into the crowd. On the way out, he walked over to the team man­ager and said, “see you later, I’m out of here”. This ef­fec­tively closed the chap­ter on Mike Dow­son’s in­ter­na­tional mo­tor­cy­cling ca­reer. One that had promised so much but fell short, just when he was on the brink of in­ter­na­tional suc­cess. Mike was one of Aus­tralia’s most gifted and suc­cess­ful rid­ers. He was up with the best of them. He’d been in the win­ner’s cir­cle na­tion­ally with achieve­ments that in­cluded the record for the most wins in the Cas­trol 6-Hour (which he shares with Ken Blake). He also scored eleven vic­to­ries in nine years at Mount Panorama, Bathurst, in­clud­ing a dou­ble win in his first year there, 1980. Im­me­di­ately be­fore his time with Kawasaki, he was con­tracted with the suc­cess­ful Yamaha Rac­ing Team in Ja­pan where he had two good sea­sons in

‘this kid’s pretty good, you need to get him on the east coast’.

the de­vel­op­ment classes. But at the end of ’89, he jumped ship from Yamaha in an ill-thought-out de­ci­sion that likely put paid to prospects of suc­cess at the high­est level. How Mike got to this point is a cap­ti­vat­ing story and a clas­sic case of snatch­ing de­feat from the jaws of vic­tory. Like most suc­cess­ful mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ers, Mike cut his teeth in the sport as a kid. He and his young brother, An­thony, started com­pet­ing in mo­tocross at the Shrub­land Park Mo­tocross track out­side Bun­bury in WA’s south west. The fam­ily’s in­volve­ment in mo­tor­cy­cling was ex­ten­sive and went beyond mo­tocross com­pe­ti­tion. His fa­ther, Rex, was a me­chanic and had moved the fam­ily to Bun­bury to start up a Yamaha deal­er­ship for Ken Ge­orge. “My first ride was around 1973 on a trail bike that Dad con­verted into a mo­tocross bike, based on the Yamaha LT2 MX. I was just a kid and didn’t take things too se­ri­ously,” says Mike. “I do re­mem­ber watch­ing the likes of Glen Britza, Ray Buck, Phil Bruce and Wayne Pat­ter­son, who were all suc­cess­ful in mo­tocross and raced at the track. But re­ally, I was more con­cerned about hav­ing my turn. I don’t think I was ever that good at Mo­tocross”, he re­flected. “We’d also go to Wan­neroo to watch the WA round of the Aus­tralian Road Rac­ing Cham­pi­onships. It was mind-blow­ing stuff. While dad was in the pits help­ing Ge­orge Scott and the other lo­cals, I’d head to the back of the track where I could watch all the big guys come out of the basin, up and over a crest and then down the long straight. I re­mem­ber the likes of War­ren Will­ing, Greg Pretty, Mur­ray and Jeff Sayle, rid­ing TZ700s, Kawasaki triples, etc. Those bikes were awe­some and it just blew me away.” Mike says one rider who re­ally set an im­pres­sion was Gregg Hans­ford. “The guys would come out of the basin light­ing the back wheel up. They’d be wrestling with their bikes while on the gas, be­fore straight­en­ing for the crest, where the bikes would want to wheel stand. Then they’d be rolling the throt­tle off to keep the front wheel down, los­ing mo­men­tum, be­fore get­ting back on the gas. Gregg would come out of the basin and as he got to the hill, in­stead of go­ing straight, he’d take a turn and swing back again to go around the crest, ef­fec­tively turn­ing it into a bend. By get­ting the bike on its side, it would re­duce the gear­ing, so he could stay pow­ered up and main­tain mo­men­tum. He was the only one to do this and it was the most tech­ni­cal and ex­hil­a­rat­ing thing I re­mem­ber as a young bloke. It still blows me away think­ing about.” These vis­its saw the Dow­son boys and their fa­ther turn to road rac­ing. “Dad was in­flu­enced by the guys from Ken Ge­orge, and An­thony was be­com­ing re­ally keen on road rac­ing. Dad built a replica TA125 road racer with the mo­tor from the old YZ125 mo­tocross bike mounted in a road bike frame and run­ning on methanol. While An­thony was the driv­ing force, he was too young to ride at Wan­neroo. So, I got the first ride. We pro­gressed with an RD250, where I started run­ning in both the 250 and 350 events. We’d con­test both classes on the one bike with Dad work­ing fever­ishly be­tween races to re­place the bar­rels, re-jet the car­bies, change the pipes and switch ex­ter­nal sprock­ets to get the gear­ing right. Dad’s a leg­end when it comes to me­chan­ics, so be­tween him do­ing the work on the bike and mum pray­ing, I had it pretty well sorted,” he laughs. Be­tween 1976 and 1979, Mike honed his skills at a state level, con­test­ing track events at Wan­neroo and round the house events through­out WA. This bore fruit and in the 1981/82 sea­sons he met with suc­cess, win­ning most of the state ti­tles. “At the time, pro­duc­tion races were pop­u­lar. An­drew (Ajay) John­son came to Wan­neroo for the 3 Hour Un­lim­ited Pro­duc­tion race. He also rode in the 250 event in the morn­ing, and I beat him. Af­ter the race he went up to mum and dad and said, ‘this kid’s pretty good, you need to get him on the east coast’.” “In 1980 we ven­tured east and took a new RD250LC to Bathurst. I won the 250 Pro­duc­tion race. The bike hadn’t yet been re­leased for sale in WA and the win was con­tro­ver­sial, with some ac­cus­ing us of cheating as they felt the bike was a pro­to­type, even though it had been re­leased over east. I don’t re­ally re­mem­ber much about this though as the folks dealt with it. I was just fo­cused on my rid­ing, the me­chan­ics and the bike; it was just about go­ing quicker.”

So, to take his rac­ing to the next level, the fam­ily up­rooted in 1983 and moved to Bris­bane. Mike re­calls they were helped a lot by Rob Assink from Gaythorne Yamaha in Bris­bane. Rob gave his fa­ther a job in the work­shop and also found work for Mike. “1983 was mainly about gain­ing mo­men­tum. I was rac­ing against the likes of Paul Lewis, Chris Old­field, Jeff Sayle, and many oth­ers who were at the fore of the 250 and 350 leagues,” re­counted Mike. “I wasn’t re­ally knock­ing at their door, but learnt heaps.” 1984 was a big year as his rac­ing stepped up a cog. He had a lot of fun as he started cut­ting it in the big league. “We went to Bathurst at Easter in ’84 on a TZ 750 that Mal Pit­man had built. It was in­sane and I had a frig­ging ball. It was 300km/h stuff, do­ing wheel­ies down Con­rod straight and putting down just be­fore

the brak­ing zone. On one lap, I had the front wheel up so long it stopped spin­ning and when it put down, it just flicked onto full lock. In that split sec­ond, I some­how caught it, put the brakes on, shat my­self and thanked mum for her prayers. It was a bucket load of fun. Here I was, a young guy from coun­try WA, mix­ing it with all my leg­ends. It was very, very cool!” While con­test­ing the Aus­tralian Cham­pi­onship rounds, Mike was ap­proached by a group of busi­ness­men who’d formed Team Camo. They asked him to scout a young rider for them. “So, while I was trav­el­ling, I’d of­ten seen Mick Doohan out there in dif­fer­ent places. He’d be get­ting around in this old Holden ute with his Ger­man Shep­herd. Even as a young bloke, he was fast and very im­pres­sive. I tracked him down to the Gold Coast, took him to Bris­bane, got him a hair­cut, and in­tro­duced him to Team Camo. And re­ally, the rest is his­tory. He be­came the best rider I’ve ever seen.” But for Mike, 1984 was a big year and he hit the spot­light with pro­duc­tion en­durance rac­ing. “A num­ber of new pro­duc­tion bikes had come out, in­clud­ing the GPz900 from Kawasaki, Honda’s V4 1000R and the GSX R750 Suzuki. Yamaha rushed three of the new RZ500s into the coun­try just in time for the start of the ’84 pro­duc­tion en­durance sea­son. I was lucky enough to get a ride on one. The Hub 300 was one of the early en­durance races in the year, ahead of the Win­ton 500 and the big one, the Cas­trol 6-Hour at Oran Park. So, I got this ride through Rob Assink, up against this top field, on the lit­tle RZ500.” And with a big grin he says, “And I won it. That put the fo­cus on me na­tion­ally for the first time as all the guns were there, in­clud­ing Rob Phillis and Mal­colm Camp­bell. Af­ter this, Mike was con­tracted with (Dun­lop dis­trib­u­tor) Emer­son Sport to com­pete in the Cas­trol 6-Hour, teamed up with Ge­off McNaughton. The Cas­trol 6-Hour re­ally was a re­ally big thing and it was be­ing tele­vised live. The man­u­fac­tur­ers were throw­ing every­thing at it. Wayne Gard­ner, who was al­ready a house­hold name in­ter­na­tion­ally, was the main draw­card and had come across to com­pete with John Pace on the Honda. The lead en­try for Yamaha was the Toshiba team with Richard Scott and Steven Gall. But in the lead up to the race, it be­came ap­par­ent my times and Richard Scott’s were com­pa­ra­ble, as were Ge­off with Steven’s. A de­ci­sion was made the day be­fore the race that the two teams would join forces. I’d ride with Scotty, and Ge­off and Gally would team up.” The 1984 6-Hour went down as one of the most tightly con­tested in the race’s his­tory. The cir­cuit had been changed from Ama­roo to Oran Park and con­sen­sus was the RZ would strug­gle against its big­ger and more pow­er­ful ri­vals on this cir­cuit. The pace was fu­ri­ous and Mike rode his heart out dur­ing the first stint to set them up for the rest of the race. He worked his way past the lead­ers, which in­cluded a tough bat­tle with Wayne Gard­ner and a bril­liant over­take of the race favourite, Rob Phillis, to take

the lead ahead of the first stop. The fre­netic pace con­tin­ued all through the race and, as it drew to a close, Richard Scott was in the lead, ped­dling hard to fend off a chal­lenge from John Pace. Richard man­aged to hold on and take the che­quered flag.

Af­ter this high­light, Mike con­tin­ued to en­joy the rest of the sea­son. Even though they didn’t win, he re­calls with par­tic­u­lar amuse­ment the in­ter­na­tional Swann Se­ries. Suzuki and Honda were in fierce com­pe­ti­tion with their new breed of ul­tra-light 500cc Grand Prix ma­chines; the four cylin­der Skoal Ban­dit RGB Suzuki 500, and the RSV500V3 from Honda. Rid­ers in­cluded Rob McEl­nea and Wayne Gard­ner, who were con­tin­u­ing their bat­tle from Europe, as well as the likes of Glenn Mid­dle­miss, An­drew John­son, Mal­colm Camp­bell, Rob Phillis and John Pace. “Mal Pit­man built up the old TZ 750 for me to con­test the se­ries. By then, it was get­ting pretty long in the tooth. Will Hagon, com­men­tat­ing for the ABC, took the micky out the bike call­ing it ‘the old man’s axe’. There I was on Mal Pit­man’s home­built TZ750, lin­ing up against the fac­tory spon­sored Grand Prix rac­ers.”

The se­ries of six races over dif­fer­ent cir­cuits was hotly con­tested, with wins by a num­ber of dif­fer­ent rid­ers. Mike was right in the mix on this bike that had no right to be so com­pet­i­tive. “I think we fin­ished around 4th or 5th over the se­ries, which sur­prised many. And we got great TV cov­er­age,” he says re­flect­ing on the se­ries. “To­ward the end of the sea­son we were told we had the Toshiba spon­sor­ship for the ‘85 sea­son, which meant we were di­rectly linked with Yamaha Aus­tralia. We had a rea­son­able year, win­ning a few en­durance races in­clud­ing the Denso 500 at Win­ton, where I teamed with Kevin Magee.” One of the high­lights for 1985 was the Bathurst Cen­te­nary Grand Prix. “Dur­ing the year, Mal Pit­man pro­duced an­other TZ750, did it up in the Toshiba Yamaha colours and we took it to the Bathurst Cen­te­nary GP. It was ba­si­cally an un­lim­ited event and ev­ery­one was there. Johnny Pace was prob­a­bly my main com­peti­tor, rid­ing the RGB500 Suzuki. The field also in­cluded a whole bunch of guys on su­per­bikes, which were just start­ing to take off. “Johnny and I man­aged to take off and gap ev­ery­one, and for the whole race we were all over each other. On the last lap he came off at For­rest’s El­bow and I just closed for home to take the win. “Un­for­tu­nately, Johnny hurt him­self in that fall and didn’t come good for a while. But one thing that was amus­ing was the lead up where I re­mem­ber try­ing to get the gear­ing right. The bike’s max­i­mum revs through the gears was 8,500 and I wanted that down Con­rod. We were fid­dling with the aero­dy­nam­ics and other tweaks to get it right, but the bike was only pulling 7,900 and I was get­ting frus­trated. Un­be­known to me, they’d set up speed sen­sors down Con­rod and the me­dia had an­nounced the speeds we were do­ing. I came into the pits frus­trated at not get­ting the revs. Mal came up, slapped me on the back and said, ‘how’s that?’ I turned and said, ’I’m only pulling 7,900’. And he said ‘your never bloody happy, I don’t know what I have to do to keep you happy! You’ve just done 305. No one’s been that fast be­fore and you’re still not happy’.” The set-up must have been good be­cause, apart from win­ning the race, Mike also set a new lap record for the class, which was no mean feat given the bike’s age. “Dur­ing ’85, Kevin and I were pretty much hot favourites for the Cas­trol 6-Hour. It was a dry/wet race and we were chang­ing rear tyres and rider each hour. We had soft and hard tyres and the only way to tell them was a lit­tle coloured spot on the tyre. On one stint though, where I was to have a soft tyre, I just didn’t seem have any grip and couldn’t hold the thing up. Even­tu­ally I went down. To this day I’m con­vinced I had the wrong tyre for that hour. I say that be­cause both be­fore and af­ter, Kevin and I were do­ing the same times. It was just the one stint where I strug­gled, and I reckon it cost us the race. We fin­ished third. We’re good mates and he still

ribs me on how I cost him his first Cas­trol 6-Hour. It would have been my sec­ond, but that’s rac­ing.” Re­demp­tion is sweet though and Mike went on to win the 6-Hour for the next two con­sec­u­tive years. This meant, in the four years prior to the race be­ing dropped, he won three and came third in the other. In 1986 War­ren Will­ing took over the Yamaha team man­age­ment and started the Marl­boro Yamaha team. Mike and Kevin con­tin­ued as team mates and Mike is full of praise for War­ren’s “ge­nius” and how he helped all those he worked with. “1986 and ‘87 were good years for us un­der War­ren’s guid­ance. Once we hit our straps, we were pretty well win­ning every­thing and it was a time of real dom­i­nance. We didn’t con­test the 250 and 350 Grand Prix cham­pi­onship events and fo­cused on the Su­per­bikes. When the Marl­boro Yamaha thing hap­pened, it was al­most sur­real for us. We were both just coun­try lads and here we were in the most high-pro­file team in Aus­tralia. We were a bit shell shocked to be hon­est.” But the ‘86 sea­son started with a wake-up call for them. “We’d both flown in to Calder for the first race of the sea­son. A good friend, Trevor Flood, who’d spon­sored Kevin pre­vi­ously, came to our ho­tel on the Satur­day evening af­ter qual­i­fy­ing. “Trevor says, ‘Why don’t we go out and cel­e­brate this thing you guys are do­ing’. Not a prob­lem we think, so we hop in his BMW and he drags us off to his favourite bar in Mel­bourne. We didn’t get back un­til around three in the morn­ing. I’m not much of a drinker and was in a hell of a mess. Sun­day morn­ing and I’m in the pits with a han­gover. Ge­orge Pyne, who’d put this whole thing to­gether for Yamaha Aus­tralia, had flown in to watch. We didn’t know, but he was stay­ing at the same ho­tel. In the morn­ing, he says to us, ‘Can you boys come over here, I want to have a bit of a talk to you both?’ I’m crap­ping my­self think­ing he knew what we got up to. And then he says, ‘I’d just like to say I’m so im­pressed with you two young blokes. I got into the ho­tel at about 8:00 last night and saw your cars in the bays and that your lights were out.’ And think­ing we’d turned in early, he said ‘I would like to say it is a great thing that you guys are on this team and I’m sure we’ll do well.’ “We never did that again. And it was all Trevor Flood’s fault,” Mike says with a laugh. Suc­cess rid­ing in the Marl­boro Team also opened the doors for both rid­ers in­ter­na­tion­ally. “Kevin had done the Suzuka 8-Hour the year be­fore and said we ‘gotta do it again’. So, it was in our con­tract and in July we rocked up to do the race.” The field in­cluded Kenny Roberts teamed with Mike Bald­win, Wayne Gard­ner with Do­minique Sar­ron, and Kevin Sh­wantz with So­to­shi Tsu­ji­moto. “At that time Yamaha had three tiers in its mo­tor­sport di­vi­sion. MS1 was the high­est end, with bikes rid­den by the likes of Kenny Roberts. Then they had MS2, which was the de­vel­op­ment class and down a notch, on the low­est per­for­mance rung, was MS3, the pro­duc­tion bikes. We got our chance on a pro­duc­tion bike, an FZ750. Gard­ner and Sar­ron won the race and Kevin and I got sec­ond. That blew us away. There were more than 100,000 spec­ta­tors and it was like achiev­ing rock star sta­tus. Sec­ond was un­real, es­pe­cially as we were on a pro­duc­tion ma­chine. And we won $50k prize money. Once again, a cou­ple of kids from coun­try Aus­tralia ex­ceed­ing their wildest dreams. Af­ter that, while we had com­mit­ments in Aus­tralia dur­ing 1987, we signed up for a lot of races in Ja­pan. It was a pretty good time.” Through­out 1988 and 1989, Mike con­tin­ued with the Yamaha Rac­ing Team in Ja­pan, com­pet­ing mainly in Ja­pan and Malaysia. Most of his rac­ing was in the In­ter­na­tional su­per­bike se­ries and he was post­ing some rea­son­able re­sults. He was also rid­ing back home and in 1988 was teamed with Mick Doohan in the Marl­boro Yamaha team. They had a good sea­son, although Mike found he was al­ways run­ning sec­ond to Doohan. “I couldn’t beat the bug­ger”, he laughs. “As the ’89 sea­son drew to a close, I got ap­proached by Peter Doyle. He and his fa­ther Neville had run the Kawasaki rac­ing team in Aus­tralia for years. Peter was the main guy be­hind Rob Phillis and Aaron Slight. They’d been trav­el­ling to Ja­pan for some rac­ing and we’d got to know each other.” “Peter called and said Kawasaki were look­ing for a rider. ‘Your name’s been men­tioned and they’re keen for you to do the For­mula One stuff.’ He said they were also de­vel­op­ing a 250 Grand Prix bike to go back into the world cham­pi­onships, which par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested me as I still con­sid­ered my­self a Grand Prix rider and har­boured am­bi­tions in the 250 and 350 classes. At the time Yamaha had such a depth of tal­ent and no ap­proach had been made to me about the next sea­son. Even though I’d had a good year, I was feel­ing a bit inse­cure. Given Kawasaki were want­ing to get back into Grand Prix, I thought, ‘I’m in’. It seemed a no brainer. And, no sooner than I’d made my mind up, I was back in Bun­bury and got a call from Maikawai, who was

Head of Yamaha Rac­ing’s MS1 di­vi­sion. He says to me, ‘Mike san, what do you want to do next year?’

“I was con­fused as nor­mally they’d just tell you what you’d ride, so I mis­read the sit­u­a­tion. Like an id­iot I thought this was a sig­nal I was on my way out and told him I’d taken up an of­fer from Kawasaki. But what be­came clear to me af­ter­wards was I was be­ing of­fered a great op­por­tu­nity; that I could ef­fec­tively take my pick. If I’d re­alised what he was say­ing, I’d have pulled out of the Kawasaki agree­ment and put all my ef­forts into a Grand Prix bike in the Ja­panese cham­pi­onship, be­cause that’s what was be­ing of­fered.” The move to Kawasaki proved to be a train wreck from Mike’s per­spec­tive and, worse still, they soon dropped de­vel­op­ment of the 250 Grand Prix bike, which had been a ma­jor in­cen­tive. “I hadn’t re­alised how badly Kawasaki had lost its way and what was hap­pen­ing. Ap­point­ment as En­gi­neer in Charge of the team was largely a prize for an en­gi­neer from an­other di­vi­sion within Kawasaki In­dus­tries who’d ex­ceeded tar­gets. They didn’t need any mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. The En­gi­neer in Charge dur­ing my first year had ac­tu­ally come from the power prod­ucts section. Each year they’d have a new guy in charge. They were go­ing around in cir­cles and it just got worse. “At the end of the first sea­son, I was fed up. It was a night­mare. I’d never crashed so much in all my ca­reer. I wasn’t a crasher and here I was crash­ing all the time and break­ing bones. At one stage I couldn’t ride for two bro­ken arms. Aaron Slight was my team­mate and he was hav­ing the same prob­lems. So, at the end of the year, I flew to Ja­pan with an in­ter­preter and said, ‘I ei­ther want out of the con­tract or you give me my own team and we’ll build a ma­chine’. They said ‘yes, no prob­lem, we can do that for you’. “Two weeks later I was home and my in­ter­preter rang and said ‘I’ve got good news and bad news. They are go­ing to build the bike you want but it won’t be ready un­til the end of the sea­son’. There was that much to change. This did my head in. I’d got­ten nowhere in the past twelve months and my rep­u­ta­tion had hit rock bot­tom. I per­se­vered through that sec­ond sea­son. Even­tu­ally, the bike was ready for its first race, which hap­pened to be the last race of ‘91 at Tsukuba. Most of the world su­per­bike guys came to­gether as this was a fairly pres­ti­gious in­ter­na­tional meet­ing and the last of the Ja­panese se­ries. And I man­aged to blow them away on this new bike in its first out­ing. I felt vin­di­cated and had proven a point. It was then I walked away.”

Tsukuba was the clos­ing chap­ter in Mike’s in­ter­na­tional ca­reer. Af­ter a break, he did some na­tional events over the fol­low­ing cou­ple of sea­sons, rid­ing cameo for Mal Pit­man in the Peter Jack­son Yamaha team. He also rode in the Suzuka 8-Hour for Yoshimura Suzuki. But the dis­ap­point­ment of the fi­nal two years in Ja­pan had sapped his pas­sion and he stepped out of rac­ing af­ter ’93 to pur­sue his other love; boat­ing. Mike now works in the char­ter boat busi­ness. He re­cently re-mar­ried and, with his wife Jo, runs a char­ter boat busi­ness. Each year they head north for tours around the Kim­ber­ley re­gion.

It’s not a bad life af­ter all, de­spite his re­grets.

MIKE DOW­SON Dow­son made his pres­ence felt in the 1984 Swann Se­ries on the out-dated Pit­man’s TZ750 which was fit­ted with a FJ1100 front end.

On the Team Hen­der­son RGB500 Suzuki in the 1983 Swann Se­ries round at Surfers Par­adise.

ABOVE Mike teamed with Kevin Magee to win the 1985 Denso 500 at Win­ton on the Yamaha Dealer team FZ750. RIGHTE Col­lect­ing the 1985 Denso 500 tro­phy with team­mate Kevin Magee.

On the Yamaha Dealer team FZ750 at Bathurst, 1986. At Bathurst, 1986 where he scored a 250/350 GP dou­ble. Head­ing for the 1985 Bathurst Cen­te­nary GP win on the Pit­mans TZ750. LEFT With the sil­ver­ware af­ter win­ning the 1985 Bathurst Cen­te­nary GP, with team man­ager Mal Pit­man (left).

The Marl­boro Yamaha team at the Phillip Is­land Swann Se­ries round in 1988, Michael Doohan, man­ager War­ren Will­ing, Peter God­dard and Michael Dow­son, who clinched the se­ries win af­ter five years of try­ing. Head­ing for a pair of sec­ond places be­hind team­mate Mick Doohan at the first Aus­tralian World Su­per­bike round, Oran Park in 1988. TOP On his way to win­ning the 1988 Arai 500 at Bathurst, teamed with Michael Doohan. ABOVE Arai im­porter Jim Cran-Crom­bie presents the 1988 Arai 500 tro­phy to Dow­son and Doohan. Rostrum for Leg 2 of the 1988 World Su­per­bike Cham­pi­onship with Amer­i­can World Cham­pi­on­elect Fred Merkel (3rd), Mick Doohan (1st) and Dow­son (2nd).

ABOVE In his only Grand Prix start, Dow­son dices with Randy Mamola’s works Ca­giva at Phillip Is­land in 1989. The Yamaha was a works 1988 en­gine in a 1989 chas­sis and Mike brought it home a cred­itable ninth in the 500cc GP. Swan song. Dow­son on the Peter Jack­son Yamaha at Phillip Is­land in 1993.

Mike Dow­son on au­thor Des Lewis’ 1978 RD400 – iden­ti­cal to his own first road bike.

From bikes to boats: Mike and Jo Dow­son at their char­ter boat base.

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