Mick Doohan: An Unbreakable Legend in MotoGP History

We all know that Valentino Rossi and Marc Márquez are undoubtedly the best racers of this era. But before these two came to the scene, it was Mick Doohan, who was called the Greatest of all Time in Superbike racing.

After making a name for himself in the Superbike Circuits, Doohan made his Grand Prix debut for Honda in 1989 and quickly rose through the ranks. The Australian was the master of the monstrous fire-breathing two-stroke 500cc machines. At a time when these bikes were known for their diabolical characteristics, he won five consecutive world titles on NSR500 Honda between 1994 and 1998. His rivals were so far behind, that he once claimed racing was ‘boring as shit.’

Doohan was famed for his ultra-aggressive riding style and his sheer disregard of pain and injuries, which has ended careers of many inferior racers. He set the benchmark for riding injured within living memory so riders today think, “if Mick can suck it up in his state I can in mine.”
The difference between Doohan and current generation’s riders, he is a guy who said, "I’m not a painkiller sort of person!"

It was an incredible era of domination no Australian or even no other rider has since equaled. His first of the 5 World Championships in 1994 was a vehement display of his dominance. He won nine of the season’s 14 races and never finished off the podium. His 317 points for the season were almost double his nearest rival Luca Cadalora’s 174 points. During that time, Rothmans, Honda’s former sponsor, left Honda to join the Formula One, deeply regretted their decision. We could only wonder how hard it would’ve been for Rothmans as the new sponsor Repsol has never looked back since then! 

In 1995, he had a close competition with his fellow Australian Daryl Beattie on a Suzuki, who beat him twice in Japan and in Germany, making him a close title contender. Doohan then took four straight wins in Italy, Netherlands, France and Great Britain to beating him by a margin of 33 points.

In 1996, Doohan won eight races, and would have equaled his 1994 record of nine wins in a season if not for an infamous collision with his Repsol Honda teammate Alex Crivillé at the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Eastern Creek. They both spent much of the race in first and second position, but the Spaniard refused to give Doohan space each time he pulled a gap, which eventually led to Crivillé knocking them both off in the final lap.

The 1997 World Championship was his most dominant one. He won 12 out of 14 races, finishing second in the other two, winning the Championship with a quarter of the season still left to race. Again, Doohan crashed at Turn One in the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, this time at Phillip Island, due to his own doing. It was his last race that season and the fans were disappointed to not witness their idol win the last race.

In his final 1998 season World Championship, Doohan won eight races and three second places. The three early retirements, left the World Championship door slightly open for 500cc rookie Max Biaggi, but a disqualification at the Catalan Grand Prix made his chances to win almost negligible. 

However, the consequent round of the 1998 season was at Phillip Island, and this time fans got what they wanted. Mick Doohan had a mammoth lead before going into the last lap, most of which he spent waving to the crowd. He mono-ed over the line to take the Australian flag, and his fifth World Championship. He won his 58th and the last race of his career by a huge margin in the final round of the season in Argentina.

He finally did suffer career-ending injuries in a crash at Jerez in 1999, Doohan became advisor to Rossi at Honda before he left the sport once it became clear there wasn’t anything, he could teach the Italian superstar. His son Jack Doohan is currently making news in Open Wheel Formula cars, adding two more wheels to his father’s legacy. He is currently a racing for the Red Bull Junior team and has already won a couple championships in Australian Kart Championship - KA2 and currently in Formula 4.

Today, still after twenty years, Mick Doohan’s achievements are unbeatable and inspirational to many young riders. It was through absolute determination and guts combined with an insatiable desire to win and a passion to never give up, that pushed Doohan to win 5 subsequent 500cc World Champion titles; ultimately making him a legend and one of the best MotoGP riders in the history of superbike racing.

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