Here’s some wonderful footage of Mick Doohan and Jeremy Burgess from the old Rothman’s Honda days. The clip dates from the 1992 Suzuka Japanese GP, the year that Honda introduced a big bang version of the NSR 500, which enabled Doohan to become a dominant force in the early part of the season. Later that year came Doohan’s huge crash at Assen, a getoff that nearly cost Doohan his leg, and certainly the 1992 championship.
The 5 time 500cc GP Champion looks jovial and vibrant in the footage, a stark contrast to his later, post-injury years of championship domination. Mick does get baulked during practice, and throws the offender a withering look before accelerating away – Jeremy Burgess’s take on Doohan (and riders in general) is very diplomatic – “they are pretty highly strung people, and they do get excited…..”
Also of interest are segments from the rain soaked season opener at Suzuka. Mastering a 500cc GP bike in the wet there required genius and cajones; Doohan had all three in spades, yet almost didn’t qualify due to bad luck and timing. With walls so close to much of the track, Suzuka was a place where you didn’t want to make any mistakes. Doohan’s teammate Wayne Garder had a crash in the race, causing a leg injury which ensured his retirement from GP racing later that year.
No traction control, a razor’s edge two stroke powerband, and 1992 tire technology – surely, this was a time of heroes.