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"I'd get on the line and it would sound clean but when I really hammered it trying to get away at the lights it would just cough and splutter and not go anywhere. What we did in the end was just change the way we approached the start, go slow for the first half a lap then try and scream the thing right up to the line. Once I got it there I'd keep it screaming and cleaned out. The problem went away."

The Donington crash that might have ended Kevin's Championship hopes. When Mick Doohan misjudged the situation on the first lap braking at the end of the straight he rammed Alex Barros who was knocked into his team mate's Suzuki. Kevin's bike flipped over forwards and so nearly landed on top of him.

Donington has been the scene of some of Kevin's greatest triumphs, in l993 it was almost the scene of Championship disaster. Early in the first qualifying session on Friday afternoon Kevin shot off the track at the bottom of Craner curves when a cold rear tyre convinced him to take to the grass.

"I was really really lucky, the back came round I saved it but was then off on the grass, I went over one gravel trap lost control and crashed when I hit the next. I Sort of got up, took a couple of steps and sat down again." Kevin walked back to the pits but sat out the session too dazed to get back on the machine. With just a few minutes of the session remaining be felt able to go back out, feeling that it was vital to at least record a qualifying time in case it rained for the final session on Saturday.

Doohan fell in the same session and was equally fortunate to survive a similarly high speed fall at the same place. Rainey was flicked from the Marlboro Yamaha in the final session coming onto the start and finish straight and walked away with a wrenched right wrist.

Saturday was dry and Kevin seized pole by a full second from Cadalora and Doohan with Rainey only eighth quickest. The stage was set for a confident end of season run to the championship. Three quarters of the way round the first lap Mick Doohan misjudged his braking at the end of the straight and skittled both Lucky Strike Suzukis.

No one was seriously hurt, Kevin was particularly lucky as his bike was tripped upside down with him underneath it. He was also fortunate that Cadalora decided to defeat his team mate, thus taking five points from Wayne.

"When I got up from the crash at Donington, I felt like someone was looking after me. There was some reason I wasn't hurt because by all intents and purposes I should have been. I guess that Luca beating Wayne also made me a bit more confident as well. I was thinking, 'Well Wayne's not 100% fit right now, maybe we can get back at him. There was a lot negative that happened but at the same time it could have been a lot worse, Wayne could have won and I could have been hurt and the championship over."

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