by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 93
Moto GP FEATURE >> of courage. But two Australians in particular stand out. Mick Doohan (below) suffered a similar but potentially slightly less serious leg frac- ture at Assen in 1992, while leading the World Championship from Wayne Rainey. Things went wrong with the post-opera- tive treatment, and the poor guy ended up with both legs sewn together -- sharing the blood supply alleviated the threat of gangrene and subsequent amputation. But he came back, the title still a mathe- matical possibility, after only eight weeks. Physically wrecked, he could do nothing to stop Rainey winning his third in a row: the leg -- bent like a banana -- would require elaborate treatment for many years to come. The other is Wayne Gardner (pic, bottom). This most determined of all riders made some- thing of a speciality of heroic returns from injury -- a reflection both of his bullish riding style and the fickle handling of the monstrous pre-electronic pre-Big Bang 500cc two- strokes of the time. Espe- cially the wildly powerful Honda, his career-long mount. The first example came two years after his World Championship, at the 1989 US GP at Laguna Seca. This mess of a race was just one week away from the Australian round: a week with a 40-hour journey to make across the date line. And the bikes arrived a day late. Everyone was frazzled and lagged, and the meeting is best remembered for a silly slow-down-lap crash: US dirt-track hero Bubba Shobert suffered life-threatening and certainly career-ending injuries when he came over a blind brow to find Kevin Magee doing a tyre-smoking burn-out in the middle of the track. Gardner had already crashed twice in practice. In the race he missed his line during a passing move, caught his foot on the inside kerb, and sustained a nasty spiral fracture to his tibia: it was twisted so badly it shattered. He came back as soon as was humanly possible, but it had taken ten weeks. There were other incidents, but his other great return from a broken tibia was in his final year, 1992. He crashed in the wet at Suzuka, piling into the barrier after his bike had knocked the big foam-rubber block out of the way. That was another bad break and he was out for eleven weeks. There are several conclusions to be drawn: the first and most glaring is about how much safer racing is today. Gardner, for instance, in that last crash, would have hit an air-fence instead of Armco barrier. Antics like Magee's burn-out are a thing of the past. And Rossi's crash didn't take him anywhere near any barriers. But Sheene's Silverstone crash took place in a pre-event mixed practice session, with 125s, 250s, 350s and 500s all sharing the circuit: Toni Elias had a not dissimilar crash this year, when the 125s and Moto2 bikes shared the track at Jerez. Another is that medical treatment nowa- days is --perhaps not necessarily better, but certainly better geared towards promoting faster healing, with the advantage of two or more decades of scientific research. Rossi had the advantage of a hyperbaric chamber and none of the infection and complica- tions that would have meant having his legs sewn together. Truth told, this sort of courage is common in bike racing. Note that we have confined our examples to World Champions. Even now, we have that ultra-tough little Frenchman Randy de Puniet threatening to come back even quicker than Rossi, after a very similar tib-and-fib break in Germany. Currently, Randy is aiming to miss just one race, and come back for the next round at Brno. That would be a turnaround of four weeks. Breaking even his own record for courage. 39