Motorcycling: Doohan wins his first 500cc title: Honda rider on top

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The Independent Online
MICHAEL DOOHAN, of Australia, completed a remarkable comeback from a 1992 accident which shattered his leg and almost ended his career by winning his first world 500cc title yesterday. Doohan's victory on a Honda in the Czech Grand Prix, his eighth of the season, left him with an unassailable 87-point lead with three races left. Japan's Shinichi Itoh was second, also on a Honda, and Luca Cadalora, of Italy, starting from pole, was third on a Yamaha.

After mounting the winners' platform to the strains of 'Waltzing Matilda', Doohan said: 'I really want to thank the doctors and everyone who supported me at the end of '92. Without them, I wouldn't be racing a bike, let alone being the 500 champion.' The Australian had shown a mastery of the Brno track all week, posting an unofficial lap record before losing the pole to Cadalora in the the last seconds of qualifying on Saturday.

Yesterday, Spain's Alberto Puig surged into an early lead. Doohan squeezed past him at the end of the second lap and was never challenged again. Doohan crossed the line 3.32sec ahead of Itoh, clocking 45min 39.974sec for the 118.668km race.

The defending world champion, Kevin Schwantz, the only rider with a shot at challenging Doohan for the crown, managed only seventh place. The American had broken Doohan's streak of six successive victories by winning the British Grand Prix last month. Schwantz was quick to congratulate the Australian. 'The way his season has gone, there is no way anyone could have beaten him,' he said. 'Mick's done his time and paid his dues . . . I'm happy for him now.'

The soft-spoken Doohan said he was not satisfied with one world title. 'I feel now that I've really got to win another one to make it certain,' he said.

In the 250cc race, Italy's Massimiliano Biaggi led from pole to the finish line on an Aprilia - his fourth success of the season. Germany's Ralf Waldmann was second on a Honda and France's Jean-Paul Ruggia third on an Aprilia. Loris Capirossi, leading the standings coming into the Czech event, fell one point behind his countryman Biaggi when he lost control on the final lap while in third place and crashed out of the race. Biaggi has 169 points, Capirossi 168 and Japan's Tadayuki Okada 163 after finishing fifth.

Itoh, second in the main event, was among nine Japanese riders who finished in the top 10 in the three divisions, including Kazuto Sakata, who won the 125cc race.

Results, Sporting Digest, page 31