blurred past

Lucky Strike roundels adorned the Suzukis for the first time for the 1990 season and Kevin Magee switched from the Roberts Yamaha team. It was the first time that Kevin had had a Grand Prix winner as a team mate and considering how competitive the Suzuki had been in '89 a great deal was expected of the team.

When Magee first tested the Suzuki he reported that it was lighter in the front, he could brake harder but it did not change direction as quickly. He thought the power was comparable but that the Suzuki's power band felt a little wider. Kevin was almost two seconds a lap faster at Suzuki's Ryuyo test track than his new team mate but Magee was still getting used to the bike. More importantly Kevin was about two and a half seconds quicker than he had been on the '89 bike.

The pair got on well even when Kevin ran into the back of Magee's machine while they were testing at Shah Alam. "I had to leap off before I hit that bank when I ran off the track during training. I was coming up behind Magee' and was going to go inside him when I realised that he was coming down into the corner quicker than I thought."

"I got back around him to go outside but had to hold it real close as he was going to he using all the road. I hit his rear chain adjuster with my bottom fork leg and it took my brake hose off. I ran off the track and had to jump off before I hit the bank. I was lucky, I just took a bit of skin off my shoulder."

They went to Suzuka with high hopes hut Magee was a little detuned after he crashed in practice. Kevin also realised during practice that they might not have the advantage with the new machine that they hoped. "We got down to do low tens but then Rainey did one lap at nine in the last couple of laps of practice. We realised that if he was going to go that fast we were going to have trouble running that pace because we didn't have anything set up. We tried a few things Sunday morning but it was so windy that it was hard to try and make anything work at that point."


Mick Doohan looking over Kevin's shoulder at Jerez and chased by Alex Barros. It was bad luck that was stalking the Lucky Strike Suzuki team though. Kevin was riding with a left wrist far from fully recovered from the break it sustained at Laguna Seca. Kevin Magee was still in hospital in California though thankfully recovering from his US Grand Prix injuries and Niall Mackenzie was riding as his replacement.

Incredibly Kevin held off the Honda to finish third. Mackenzie was eighth.

"In the race Wayne got a good start and got away. Gardner and I got together. I actually closed on Wayne a couple of laps, just by a few tenths but Gardner got back with me and started outbraking me. We were going back and forth and basically lost touch with Wayne."

"I thought I had Gardner sorted out pretty good for the last lap going into the chicane, just as soon as I got up the inside and he saw my wheel he came in and I think he was still going in too fast. He went into the chicane real deep. I got turned quick because I knew he was going to be wide. He came back across and as I was coming down , we hit. I guess it all depends on how you look at it as to who's fault it was I'd say it was his."

"I was not real comfortable with the tyres we chose for the race, front and back. Not that it was a tyre problem. It was just that it was real cold. We had trouble previous years there, pushing the front because the Suzuki was so hard on front tyres.


Third place at Suzuka would hardly be called a disaster but the same word doesn't come close to describing the second round of the season at Laguna Seca. Kevin Magee fell on the third lap and while he was helicoptered to hospital the race was stopped. It was restarted without anyone knowing just how close to death he would come that evening. 
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