Classic Racer

Mighty Mick!

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In the mid-1980s Mick Doohan’s race career was raising a few eyebrows. The young Aussie hooked up with Jon Macgillvra­y who owned a Yamaha RZV500 that he ended up putting Mick on. The two would become firm friends and Jon would later become Mick’s manager.

In 1985 they had a great idea: paint the bike in camouflage, make Mick ride in leathers with camo overalls on (‘I’d puff up

// YEAR: 1986 // LOCATION: SURFER’S PARADISE INTERNATIO­NAL RACEWAY

like the Michelin man,’ he’d say) and erect a military-style tent where the team could hang out and enjoy some beers with a barbecue – Team Camo was born!

A year later the camo was gone and instead the team got some backing and became ‘Gaythorne Yamaha’, now complete with an RZ250 where they would enter whatever races they could – including the Surfers 3-Hour endurance race.

In Mat Oxley’s superb biography: Mick Doohan – Thunder from Down Under, Mick talks about his riding style on the proddie RZS: “I’d get the thing sliding with the momentum, then have it bouncing around. All the top guys were passing me on the straights and I’d be passing them back in the turns. I was leaving black lines, hanging it out.” Michael Dowson – a handy Aussie racer himself of the time recalls: “Even on the RZ250 he had this crazy style he’d got from dirt riding – all the emphasis on the front. He just let the rear look after itself!”

Mick was on his way: he’d win two rounds of the World Superbike championsh­ip in 1988 for his Marlboro Yamaha team and be snapped up by the Rothmans Honda team for 500cc Grand Prix duty for 1989. The rest, as they say, is history…

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