blurred past

This time he had the hand set before he left the circuit, by the sport's resident physician Dr. Claudio Costa. It was nowhere near as bad as the break he sustained at the end of the previous season. That had been his right hand and this was his left.

As he explained at the time Kevin was happy to have Dr. Costa look after him. I think if I had gone with this finger to a doctor in the States he'd have said, This hand is broken in seven places, this finger in four, two back here and the little finger broken.' He'd have said two months in a cast and then another eight weeks rehabilitating. The season would he done." Fortunately there was a three week gap before the Spanish round at Jerez. Doohan continued his total domination of the series with his fourth win in a row and Rainey took second ahead of Mackenzie. Kevin's hand was not the inhibiting factor in fact as tyre problems held him back in fourth place. 'We made the wrong choice on tyres, we didn't try enough other stuff after the first practice. We focused pretty much on just a couple of tyres."

Misano was a different story, though a full second off Mick Doohan's pole position qualifying time he raced at the front all the way. Wayne slid off trying to better the pair of them and Kevin was able to take advantage of some tyre problems that this time effected the Honda to win by five seconds.

Trying to forget what had happened in Malaysia Kevin was back in action at Jerez. "I think if I had gone with this finger to a doctor in the States he'd have said' `This hand is broken in seven places, this finger in four, two back here and the little finger broken. `He'd have said two months in a cast and then another eight weeks rehabilitating. The season would be done."

Kevin was shocked to have seen Wayne fall in front of him. "Anyone can make a mistake. You don't expect Wayne to make mistakes. I've been racing against him since '86 and I have never, mark that, never... seen him fall. Never have I been close enough to him to see him fall in a race. I've seen him crash in practice but not in a race."

"Obviously they must have really struggled to get his bike working at that track. I think there is a stage where you have got to say, 'well I'm going to go for it' and there is a stage where you have got to say, 'going for it has gone out of the window.' "Which would probably not have been a comment he could have made a year or two previously when Kevin had the reputation of never backing off, no matter how hopeless the situation looked.


Chandler chasting at Catalunya. No one could remember when, if even, Kevin had had a team mate who could finish in front of him. Kevin was honest. "He was going well' not too much different in the bikes but I guess he has got his working just a bit better than mine."

Very simply Kevin's attitude had changed, "I realised that I could no longer go out and always ride at 110% on a bike that was only 90% competitive if I was going to win the Championship. I had to just do what I could, I might have to take the extra risk from time to time but not almost every weekend like I had to at one time."

The following Grand Prix at Catalunya was one of those occasions when he had to accept defeat, taking fourth behind his team mate. "I raced with Doug and he was going well, not too much difference in the bikes but I guess he had got his working just a bit better than mine." Already Mick had a huge, forty eight point championship lead.

1992 was the year of the 'Big Bang' close firing order Honda. By mid season Suzuki had copied this and at Hockenheim Kevin had the use of a close firing order engine but he did not race with it. "We needed speed there and we didn't have the new engine running right. I ran the old one hoping it would have more revs if it came to a fight with Mick at the end."

"I never got to try that though because he split from the start. I had to chop Doug up at the first turn to get around him and by the time I got past Kocinski, Mick was far enough ahead that 1 never picked up his slipstream."

Arriving at Assen Mick had a fiftty three point championship lead over Kevin and twice as many points as Wayne. Rainey went home before the end of practice in Holland, his hand too sore after a Hockenheim practice crash. Everyone thought that Doohan already had his name on the championship.

Then Mick fell, it was not a big crash but the broken ankle he sustained would keep him out of action until the last two races of the year where he would ride even though still well below par. There were a host of fallers in all including Kevin who though not hurt qualified only fifth fastest, just ahead of Doug as Lawson took pole on the Cagiva. "I still wasn't really that bothered, for one Rainey had gone home, declared himself unfit to race, then Mick was hurt. The two guys I was pretty much racing for the championship were not going to ride."

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