In the 500cc grand prix, Michael Doohan, the world champion, launched the defence of his crown with an emphatic victory. The 29-year-old Australian, riding a Honda, cruised home 13sec ahead of the Suzuki rider and his compatriot Daryl Beattie after a scorching start. The Spaniard Alex Criville was third on a Honda. After the race Doohan took the opportunity to criticise the circuit, which he has said is unsafe because of its slippery surface.
"It's a shame that we have such a great facility but the surface is so ratty," Doohan said. "It would be great if they could resurface it." Doohan's display capped a memorable weekend for the Queenslander, who started from pole position on the grid after recording the fastest times in both qualifying sessions.
Doohan's lead was never challenged as he gradually drew away from the field during the 30-lap race. "It is great to win any grand prix, but it is especially pleasing to win the Australian Grand Prix in front of my home crowd," he said.
In the 125cc class, Japan's Honda rider Haruchika Aoki claimed his first grand prix victory.
Photograph: Megan Lewis/Reuter
AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX (Eastern Creek, NSW) Leading positions: 500cc: 1 M Doohan (Aus) Honda 46min 06.030sec (ave speed 92.068mph); 2 D Beattie (Aus) Suzuki 46:19.476; 3 A Criville (Sp) Honda 46:25.098; 4 L Cadalora (It) Yamaha 46:39.783; 5 K Schwantz (US) Suzuki 46:40.402; 6 A Barros (Bra) Honda 46:42.030; 7 A Puig (Sp) Honda 46:44.651; 8 L Capirossi (It) Honda 46:50.884; 9 N Abe (Japan) Yamaha 46:52.504; 10 S Itoh (Japan) Honda 47:10.812; 11 L Reggiani (It) Aprilia 47:11.524; 12 S Emmett (GB) Yamaha 47:33.320. 250cc: 1 R Waldmann (Ger) Honda 43:52.872; 2 T Harada (Japan) Yamaha 43:52.985; 3 M Biaggi (It) Aprilia 43:53.018; 4 C Checa (Sp) Honda 44:30.846; 5 N Aoki (Japan) Honda 44:30.963; 6 D Romboni (It) Honda 44:33.628. 125cc: 1 H Aoki (Japan) Honda 42:52.040; 2 K Sakata (Japan) Aprilia 43:07.681; 3 T Manako (Japan) Honda 43:14.136; 4 E Alzamora (Sp) Honda 43:14.204; 5 N Ueda (Japan) Honda 43:16.968; 6 S Perugini (It) Aprilia 43:17.474.