Motorcycling: Doohan uneasy about circuit

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The Independent Online
MICHAEL DOOHAN left for Monaco and one of his homes yesterday with a comfortable lead in the 500cc world championship standings, but he departed with a scathing attack on the track at Donington Park, where he came second in the British Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Australian, who qualified on pole position and finished the race 2.3sec behind Kevin Schwantz, has never had a happy outing at the circuit and he made plain his feelings about the surface. 'I know every race is different, and that you can't like every track, but the conditions here are a joke,' he said. 'There are paving bricks on the inside and outside of the track. That's wrong and they nearly brought me down.'

Schwantz, however, whose victory for Suzuki on Sunday was his fourth in seven appearances at the Leicestershire circuit, claims it is his favourite on the world tour. 'A lot of the other riders don't like this track while I seem to adapt better to it,' the American world champion said.

Donington hosted the Formula One Grand Prix of Europe last year and regularly holds other international race meetings. But Doohan, who has a 71-point lead in the world championship with four races remaining, said: 'It's all right for cars to drive on a circuit like that but we're on two wheels, not four. Bikes just aren't suited to a track layout like that and the organisers have to have a rethink about it.'

Schwantz, who crashed during qualifying on Saturday but escaped serious injury, said: 'I love the track. It's a track that's good some times, and bad other days, depending on the weather conditions. Certainly it gets a bit slicker in the heat, but I really don't think there's anything wrong with it, and don't believe it needs resurfacing.

'You have to approach every track differently. You've got to remember each circuit, not let certain tracks sneak up and get you. I had a bad fall, but I didn't blame it on the track. I had a new tyre on and tried to go too fast, and that's as far as it goes.'

With 25 points for a win, the American must be counting on nothing less than four more victories over Doohan to defend his crown. The Queenslander has won seven times for Honda this season, while Donington was only the Texan's second victory this year. The next grand prix will be at Brno, in the Czech Republic, on 21 August.