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GP Week : Issue 153
In a racing career only in the premier class, and spanning just 10 years, Mick Doohan’s racing results put him up among the all-time greats. His record of 12 wins per season still stands; no modern rider has matched his five World Championships in a row. And his courage fighting back from injury remains legendary. We spoke to Mick, who now has business interests in Australia and the US, at home in Australia’s Gold Coast, about racing then and now. GPWEEK: You must be happy to hear that you’ve just regained the lead on percentage of wins of races started – Rossi took it away for a while. MICK DOOHAN: Statisticians might think that’s important but at the end of the day those kind of things are going to come and go. But Rossi’s had an amazing career, and I don’t think it’s over just yet. Maybe, the Ducati, I don’t know if it’s him or the bike, or he’s just lost confidence. With racing, when do you stop? I’m not close enough to the sport nowadays to really make a correct assessment of the team or the rider. Definitely seems he’s struggling with that machine. Nicky Hayden is doing a better job than him at the moment. So whether or not there’s another issue with Rossi, I don’t know. We’ll wait and see if he can come back, or Ducati can give him some more confidence in that bike, or whether it’s just him personally having an issue he can recover from. Do you watch all the races nowadays? Occasionally. I watch the Jerez race because I do some commentary with the local network, but I would have to say that I don’t really, due to the time difference, I don’t get the chance to watch them all. Do you ever watch your old videos? (Roars with laughter) No. I don’t sit around and reminisce that much. Stoner speaks a lot about you as an inspiration, and how glad he is to be in your team. He’s doing a great job so far, talking about win rates. He’s been winning more than he’s been losing, and had a pretty good run on podiums. And he was the only one who could ride the Ducati so fast: he’d either win or crash, but that might be the way that thing needed to be ridden. That’s another thing: Rossi’s not at that stage of his career to want to ride like that. Stoner on the other hand seems to be well and truly in control: both he and Lorenzo. He’s on the Honda, a Repsol, and he’s Australian. I’m happy and humble that he’s talking about me the way he is. It’s just another period. Who’s to say Rossi’s not going to come back? Stoner’s the man of the moment – in a couple of years it’ll be somebody else. Might be Lorenzo again. It might be Cal Crutchlow. He’s going well. It would be great to see a Brit get up there. How do you compare modern GP bikes with the 500 two-strokes you rode? What we old-timers call “real bikes”. They’re still real bikes. They still have a lot of horsepower. The only thing is they’re getting heavier and heavier. That’s the single thing that makes them a little bit more like production bikes, but they’re still well and truly removed from production bikes. They do seem to be easier. Even towards the end of my career with the 500s, they went to unleaded fuel and other bits and pieces, and they were easy to ride and easy to qualify on with fresh rubber, and times were very close in qualifying. But there was still only one, two or three people who could go the race distance at speed, and today is exactly the same. They’re what the manufacturers want to be building. There’s probably a little bit too much electronic control on them, but that’s what the manufacturers are wanting. Unfortunately the spectacle on TV isn’t what it was in the past. Even the new bikes this year, there’s not as much passing. I don’t know which area to work on to fix that. Whether it’s electronics or the brakes, I don’t know. Have you had a go on one? Would you want to? Not since they introduced the 990. Maybe it would be good to have a run, but I’m well and truly past my use-by date, so I don’t think I’d be pushing it to the limit. It’d be fun to have a ride, but to give a correct assessment of it – I’d be dreaming if I thought I could say it needs this or that. I’m sure it’d feel good at five seconds off the pace. Is flying helicopters more fun than bikes? They’re completely different. I love motorcycle racing even though you guys sometimes didn’t think that was the case. I just didn’t like some of the bullshit that went with it. I enjoyed every aspect of the racing. I think that showed: I was there for long enough and I was racing when I was a kid. Motorcycling is still a big part of my life. And motor racing. But flying helicopters is fun. I enjoy that, it’s a completely different feeling. You just forget about who you are and become “Mick the Pilot” . Flying and aviation is just a bit of a hobby. Your career ended very abruptly, when you crashed at Jerez in 1999. Looking back, how do you feel about it now? Do you still rue the day? There comes a time when you have tostop.Weasateamandmeasan individual had achieved far more than what I thought I could have achieved when we started out. To crash and retire through injury – it would have been nicer to park the bike. But at what point of time do you park the bike? So perhaps it wasn’t a bad way to leave the sport anyway. I crashed, but who doesn’t crash? And over my career I think I crashed less than most. 5 MINUTES WITH MICK DOOHAN All-but tied with Valentino Rossi in a win/race ratio contest, former champion Mick Doohan was at home when MICHAEL SCOTT rang for a chat 5 MINUTES 17 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: