Michael Doohan celebrated the 100th grand prix ride of his illustrious career by taking his 32nd 500cc victory at Donington Park yesterday. The 31-year-old Australian showed his speed and skill throughout to win the British Grand Prix ahead of his Honda team-mate Alex Criville, of Spain.
He rewrote the record books with a 97.37mph lap of the Leicestershire circuit to claim pole position and then treated the 30,000 sun-soaked crowd to a classic performance.
Doohan had hung back at the first corner as the pack hurtled into the right-hander. Kenny Roberts charged clear, leading for the first two races on hisYamaha, but then slipped back through the field and crashed out a third of the way into the race.
Doohan, biding his time, carved through the field, catching the Italian Loris Capirossi on the eighth lap, and then swooping past him on the Craner Curves section. Once ahead, Doohan was totally in control, dictating the pace of the race and winning by 3.3sec from Criville, with the Japanese duo Norifume Abe and Tadayuki Okada just behind.
"It was a hard race - it always is here," he said afterwards. "I love the atmosphere and the event but not the track. Grip is always a problem here and the secret of success here is to be smooth with the throttle, not to be aggressive.
"I am enjoying my racing here - I have achieved what I wanted by winning two world titles, now I go out there and enjoy things, that is why I have a smile on my face."
His victory extended his lead in the title race to 191-129 over Criville, but Doohan is taking nothing for granted. "I have a good lead in the championship, touch wood, but there are still 150 points at stake," he said. "I would like the title, and if I win it, that would be a bonus. At the moment I am concentrating on winning races, and the bonus would be to take the title again."
Criville also started poorly, dropping back to sixth. "My problem was also a bad start but once the race settled down and I was in second spot I couldn't really get close to Doohan," he said.
Japan's Abe was pleased to take third despite tyre problems on his Yamaha. "I knew I had a chance of the podium from the start but the rear tyre was sliding a lot and it was difficult to push hard," he said.
The British challenge in the race centred on a determined 13th place by Amersham's James Haydon aboard an ROC Yamaha, while Nottingham's Chris Walker took 16th place, just ahead of Eugene McManus.
Both Jeremy McWilliams and Terry Rymer crashed out in the early stages.
In the 250cc, won by Italy's Max Biaggi, Jamie Robinson, who qualified in 20th position, had to retire after a collision with Luca Boscoscuro.
(30 laps 75 miles): 1 M Doohan (Aus) Honda 47min 11.135sec (ave speed 95.36mph); 2 A Criville (Sp) Honda 47:14.454; 3 N Abe (Japan) Yamaha 47:20.770; 4 T Okada (Japan) Honda 47:20.916; 5 S Russell (US) Suzuki 47:21.546; 6 L Capirossi (It) Yamaha 47:35.960. Selected: 13 J Haydon (GB) ROC Yamaha 48:33.380; 16 C Walker (GB) Elf 47:13.820 17 E McManus (GB) Yamaha 48:33.757.
Fastest lap: Russell 1:33.574 (96.176mph).
World Championship standings: 1 Doohan 191pts; 2 Criville 129; 3 L Cadalora (It) Honda 113; 4 A Barros (Bra) Honda 100; 5 Abe 94 6 Russell 86.
(27 laps, 67.5miles): 1 M Biaggi (It) Aprilia 43:04.272 (ave speed 94.02mph); 2 R Waldmann (Ger) Honda 43:08.909; 3 O Jacque (Fr) Honda 43:19.326; 4 J Fuchs (Ger) Honda 43:33.668; 5 T Ukawak (Japan) Honda 43:42.996; 6 T Tsujimura (Jap) Honda 43:45.322. Selected: 16 S Smart (GB) Honda 44:34.509; 17 S Sawford (GB) Aprilia + lap.
Fastest lap: Biaggi 1:34.968 (94.76mph).
World championship standings: 1 Biaggi 199pts; 2 Waldmann 146; 3 T Harada (Japan) Yamaha 97; 4 Fuchs 96; 5 Jacque 92.
(26 laps, 65 miles): 1 S Perugini (It) Aprilia 43:41.678 (89.24mph); 2 M Tokodome (Japan) Aprilia 43:44.331; 3 T Manako (Japan) Honda 43:48.302; 4 J Martinez (Sp) Aprilia 43:57.288; 5 K Sakata (Japan) Aprilia 43:59.254; 6 N Ueda (Japan) Honda 44:00.470. Selected: 13 D Barton (GB) Aprilia 44:23.130; 22 C Palmer (GB) Honda; 23 R Appleyard (GB) Honda; 24 P Jennings (GB) Honda +1.
Fastest lap: Tokodome 1:39.704 (90.26mph).
World championship standings: 1 H Aoki (Japan) Honda 154; 2 Tokodome 120; 3 Perugini 119; 4 Manako 101; 5 E Alzamora (Sp) Honda 94.
(26 laps, 65 miles) 1 D Dixon and A Hetherington (GB) Windle ADM 42:24.323; 2 R Biland and K Waltisperg (Swit) LCR BRM 42:46.974; 3 S Webster and D James (GB) LCR ADM 42:47.371; 4 K Kumuagaya (Japan) and T Hokinson (GB) LCR BRM 43:18.506; 5 D Brindley and P Hutchinson (GB) LCR BRM 43:27.506; 6 P Gudel and C Gudel (Swit) LCR BRM 43:29.236.
Fastest lap: S Abbott and J Biggs 1:36.489 (lap record).
World Championship standings: 1 Dixon 95; 2 Webster 68; 3 Gudel 64; 4 Biland 53.
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