MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
When Mighty Mick won his first crown
It’s a quarter of a century since Mighty Mick Doohan won his first 500cc world title at Brno. Here’s how he did it...
There are many parallels between Mighty Mick Doohan and Magical Marc Márquez: their crazy talent to ride the ragged edge, their mastery of the front tyre, their premier-class records and milestones, their enjoyment of mind games and perhaps most of all their love for destroying and demoralising the opposition.
Doohan’s crew chief Jeremy Burgess had a phrase for this last obsession, borrowed from the rough and rude world of Aussie rules football: “Crush the c***s!”.
This is what Márquez did once again at Brno. He had no reason to take risks and could’ve been forgiven for engaging cruise mode to conserve his huge points advantage, which is, of course, exactly why he didn’t. The idea is to mess with your rivals’ heads, until they see you as unbeatable, so they go into each race already beaten.
He did it in qualifying, skating around the partly soaked circuit on slicks to better everyone by 2.5sec. And he did it again in the race, when he beat everyone by 2.4sec.
His 58th MotoGP pole position equalled Doohan’s all-time pole record and his 50th race win makes him only the fourth rider to reach the half-century, alongside Doohan, Giacomo Agostini and Valentino Rossi.
It was fitting that Márquez reached these landmarks at Brno, because it was at Brno that Doohan won his first 500cc world championship 25 years ago, in August 1994.
Undoubtedly, Doohan’s five consecutive titles – 1994 to 1998 – constitute the greatest comeback in Grand Prix history. In June 1992 the 27-year-old Aussie went into the Dutch TT leading the series by 52 points from Wayne Rainey, but then he crashed in final practice, sustaining spiral fractures of his right tibia and fibula.
He elected to go under the knife at the local hospital, where surgeons botched the op that should’ve fixed the break and had him back on a bike in a few weeks. The surgeons were on the verge of amputating the leg below the knee when MotoGP medic Dr Claudio Costa arrived in a Lear-jet ambulance and spirited Doohan to his own clinic in Bologna, where he sewed the Aussie’s legs together, so that the left leg’s blood supply might save the right leg.
Doohan spent the next year and a half in and out of operating theatres, after returning to racing at the end of 1992 with so little feeling in the leg that he couldn’t even keep it on its footpeg.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.