MICK DOOHAN ON TZRS

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - YAMAHA TZR250 -

“WITH­OUT A DOUBT THE TZR MADE ME LOOK GOOD, AND IT WAS RE­ALLY A STEP­PING STONE TO THE REST OF MY CA­REER”

Mick Doohan (five times World 500cc Cham­pion, lest we for­get) raised a few eye­brows in 1987 on a TZR. This is how he re­mem­bers the bike. “We didn’t ac­tu­ally have a one -make se­ries in Aus­tralia, although I know they did else­where. It would have been fun if it was, but it was just a 250 prod­die class. So you’d have TZRS and older Suzuki RGS and Kawsaki KRS and even older Yamaha RZS. You can see from that photo that we got some big fields there! My TZR was sup­plied by Yamaha and we had lo­cal dealer sup­port so we could af­ford to race it. We raced all up and down the East Coast, mainly. We weren’t very pro­fes­sional – we’d just turn up with the bike in the back of the ute, check the tyre pres­sures (if we re­mem­bered) and get out and race.

“For me the TZR was a big step up from the pro­duc­tion bikes I’d rid­den be­fore - I’d had an RZ250, and the 500, and then an FZ750. I couldn’t say it was like a pure race bike, be­cause I didn’t know what a pure race bike felt like then – I didn’t re­ally put a leg over one un­til the NSR500 in 1989. So all I knew was that the TZR made my old RZ feel aw­ful!

“Yamaha just had a way of mak­ing bikes that han­dled, a re­ally user-friendly chas­sis, it just did ev­ery­thing you wanted it to. In fact when I first rode the NSR500 I told Honda that Yamaha’s street bikes han­dled bet­ter than Honda’s race bikes! It was only when Ed­die Law­son came from Yamaha and said the same thing that things started to change and we de­vel­oped the 1990 NSR, which was a much bet­ter pack­age. We never did get them to han­dle as well as the Yama­has though.

“But the TZR taught me so much – you’d just be drift­ing with the mo­men­tum, es­pe­cially on those street tyres, so it taught me a lot about con­fi­dence and car­ry­ing high cor­ner speed. I was quoted at the time as say­ing I didn’t want to race any­thing faster than 200kph, but that was re­ally be­cause I was adapt­ing af­ter racing dirt bikes – road rac­ers just seemed nuts!

“But you get used to it, and it be­comes ir­rel­e­vant whether you’re do­ing 200 or 300kph - un­til it goes wrong and you’re slid­ing down the track. With­out a doubt the TZR made me look good, and it was re­ally a step­ping stone to the rest of my ca­reer – at Easter 1987 the lo­cal head of Yamaha in­tro­duced me to a Ja­panese dealer, and he in­vited me to the Suzuka 8hr and that was the leg-up I needed to get off the 250 pro­duc­tion bikes and into in­ter­na­tional races. “

Which is Micky D? ‘Do you re­ally have to ask, mate?’

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