Motorcycling: Doohan considers future

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MICK DOOHAN, the world motorcycle champion, said yesterday his slow recovery from a serious accident in May could see him end his career next month.

Doohan, winner of five consecutive 500cc world championships said he was keen to compete in the final two races of the season at Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires but it would depend on his fitness.

He will make a decision in the next few weeks on whether he would be fit enough to race in South America and he would also look seriously about continuing in 2000.

Doohan, who came into yesterday's press conference on a crutch, said there was a chance of him needing another operation later this year and he also had continual problems with his left arm as a result of the crash.

"I gave myself three months and I thought everything would be OK and now four months have passed and we're at the four and a half month stage and it's still carrying on," Doohan said about his injuries.

"Within the next few weeks I have to make a decision not just for my own piece of mind but also for the team to let them know what's going on.

Doohan, aged 34, began the 1999 world championship by finishing fourth in the opening round in Malaysia and second in the following race in Japan.

He suffered a broken right leg and shoulder and left wrist in May when he crashed at 210kph (130 mph) in qualifying for round three at Jerez in Spain.

He travelled to the United States immediately after the accident for corrective surgery in San Francisco, which included inserting two plates and 12 screws in his right leg and a plate in his left forearm.

Doohan's five world championships makes him second behind Giacomo Agostini's record of eight. Doohan, who will sit out this weekend's Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island in Victoria, has 54 race victories - 14 behind the Italian motorcycling legend.

He would like to surpass Agostini's race win record but the thought of an earlier-than-expected retirement holds no fear for him. "Every year I think about stopping. I've achieved more than I thought I ever would," Doohan said. "If I was forced to stop right now, I would be content with what I've done."