Mick Doohan Interview
The Australian Grand Prix Corporation podcast In the Fast Lane this week spoke with five-time 500cc Motorcycle World Champion, Mick Doohan. We have transcribed the most pertinent points from that discussion for you here below.
On that crash…
“It was very fortunate for Valentino and Vinales that the bikes didn’t take them out, I think the consequences would have been fairly dire. I also think it was extremely unlucky for both those boys to come together (Zarco and Morbidelli) at the bottom of the hill there, its probably the fastest part of the circuit to be honest, 300+ probably where they came together and you know, unfortunately, the down sides of racing, especially on two wheels are pretty big, I guess that was highlighted yesterday but fortunately everyone walked away.
“Every time those guys put their helmets on and hop on their bikes, they are well experienced and they’ve seen a lot of adversity in their years on the bike and are well aware that they can actually be part of the action, badly injured or worse, although nobody likes to see it and nobody believes it is ever going to happen to them or would like to think it won’t ever happen to them, unfortunately it is just part and parcel of racing, every now and then there is a big crash.
“Valentino has been around longer than most, he was actually competing when I was still racing back in the 90s. He was also unfortunately involved in the accident with Simoncelli in Malaysia a number of years ago, which saw a fatal outcome for the young rider and I guess for him it might have bought some flashbacks to that, a different crash altogether.
“For a rider to see that sort of incident and for Valentino and also his team-mate for the bikes to pass so, so closely, you know if Valentino had been half a metre forward, or the bikes come across you know it could have actually had fatal consequences for Valentino or his team-mate, that’s not taken lightly, but the riders are mentally prepared for all of that and as you see they get back on the bike and they go again, but there is a little bit of time to reflect when you are sitting there…
“Just so fortunate aswell that the riders involved walked away laregly unscathed other than white faces. (Zarco will have a pin inserted in his wrist tomorrow to fix a small break and both himself and Morbidelli will front the FIM stewards on Thursday)
“In the big picture the tracks are reasonably safe compared to years gone by, in fact statistically I think the doctors used to say at the most dangerous tracks you would see less crashing as people were aware that if you crashed it could be a big one, hitting walls or whatever else, so I do think the tracks are safer now, and sure the riding equipment, you’ve got air-bags, they don’t fall apart as much, you’re generally fairly safe as long as you don’t hit anything.
“I think everyone at that level of racing uses common sense, there might be the odd elbow here, or a little bit of paint swapping, but Valentino is on the coal-face, I’m just watching it like you on television these days, so it’s a bit easier for me to comment about that. Valentino, what is he 41, not saying that he is too old to be riding what I am saying is that he has a lot of experience and he has seen a lot of bad things happen, he knows what can happen by swapping paint and using elbows too much, so perhaps more that is what he is trying to get across. You don’t actually need to be doing that, and a lot of the guys at the front generally are pretty safe and race cleanly, and I guess in a fatherly figure type of way perhaps he is trying to say that, to cool their jets a little bit and ride with their head rather than their shoulders.”
Dovizioso now the favourite for the title?
“Dovizioso again, very experienced, he is certainly due a world title. The Yamaha though seems very strong, you know you are seeing all the Yamahas pretty much dominating with Marc not there, the majority of the Yamahas seem to be strong week-in and week-out. Austria has always been a good Ducati circuit, so one race doesn’t make a championship but this might inspire Dovi to keep pushing, it may also inspire Ducati to want to help support him a little bit longer, a little bit more as well, because who else are they going to get?
“They’ve got Jack next year, but surely they would like to extract as much information out of Dovi before he leaves.. But yes on paper I think Dovi is stronger than Vinales for sure, but Quartararo is going to be a formidable player, I think he has learnt a lot last year from racing with Marc, he didn’t quite have the speed then, this year he has a couple of wins under his belt, he’s grown immensely I think mentally, and it is going to be hard for him to beaten unless you get some bad luck, like you do see in racing. But Dovizioso is for sure World Champion material, it would be nice to see him capture a world title for sure.”
Does the absence of Marc Marquez make this season a bit of an asterisk…?
“Sport is sport unfortunately and I guess that is why we watch it, the highs and lows, and we all have our favourites, rightly or wrongly, and we can all say ifs, buts and maybes, but that’s the way sport works, you always remember the winners and not the could have beens. Certainly Marc was a championship favourite, unfortunately he injured himself, so it has really opened up the season but you can’t really reflect on whether he was there or not because he is not, sure he would be in there, sure he would be fast, we saw that in the opening race, but…
“It’s the same with myself both in 92 and 99. The 99 season had only just started and I injured myself and then the racing was on and people had been saying they were racing for second place, but I wasn’t there, so it wasn’t it was racing for first, and the guy that won it was my team-mate who won the world title and that’s how it goes down in the record books. That is the good thing about sport, it moves on so quickly, and people just back the people that are competing at the time, yes Marc is going to come back, did he come back too soon, I think he probably did the right thing, it sounds as though he pushed himself too much off the bike than on the bike by the sounds of it, but he is going to come back and he will be strong when he comes back, so that might throw another mix into the championship too, depending on how many races they can squeeze into this Covid shortened season.
“It would seem that others are finding the Honda difficult to ride, more so than you would expect. My experience with Honda, although its decades ago, I think they have still got that same DNA of what they like. Honda technologically they are amazing at what they can do with engine performance, the engine is probably still one of the strongest on the circuit besides the Ducati perhaps, or might even be on a par.
“Marc probably reminds me of a Wayne Gardner, if you could put a measure between those two, because Wayne just liked the bike to go quick, and it is that all he was his after and Marc might be the same, his feedback may not be what the others like, but Marc is capable of riding the bike no matter what they give him. It seems to have gone off path since Dani Pedrosa has left the team.
“When I first joined Honda the bike was pretty difficult to ride, both Eddie Lawson and myself who were team-mates in 89, had come from Yamaha and tried to make that bike into a Yamaha, and we slowly sort of started to do that. Then when I was injured again from 92, it took me and the team half a year to get the bike back on track because the Honda engineers had just gone off on a horsepower development. It had that much horsepower it made the bike difficult to steer, stop and a whole bunch of other things. And straights are generally only about eight-seconds of a lap-time, so it seems as though Marc can ride this bike, and perhaps has just let the engineers develop it for him, rather than perhaps having some input, but that’s only my opinion.
“The thing with Marc at the moment is that he is so dominant, perhaps also the bike has got a little bit too far away that even he can’t manhandle that way he used to, and is making a few too many mistakes. To get that back on track and him back to fighting for wins the way he was before, then no matter who you are or on what bike it is going to be tough to beat him.”
Jack ready to step and take on that leadership role at Ducati?
“Ducati are certainly a different mindset, the Italians and the Japanese for sure. Jack is a likeable sort of guy, the Italians like him for sure, been with their junior Ducati team at Pramac for the past few years. He is getting a little older, and is getting more mature with what he is doing on the bike and he certainly is fast, no doubt about it. The next step to the factory outfit may just stabilise him a little better as well, a little bit more disciplined perhaps inside the factory outfit. He’s almost consistently on the front row these days anyway, or thereabouts, but to convert that consistently to race results and race wins. Do I rate Jack Miller on a Ducati, absolutely I do, and I hope for our sake, being an Australian, that he can bring it home.”
MotoGP World Championship Standings
Updated 2020 MotoGP Calendar
|6||23 August||Red Bull Ring-Spielberg|
|7||13 September||Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli|
|8||20 September||Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli|
|9||27 September||Barcelona – Catalunya|
|10||11 October||Le Mans|
|11||18 October||MotorLand Aragón|
|12||25 October||MotorLand Aragón|
|13||08 November||Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo|
|14||15 November||Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo|
|15||22 November||Autodromo Internacional do Algarve|