1992: A 500 In The Rain & No Traction, & Little Control

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.

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