Mick Doohan: Marc Marquez could become a Moto GP great

Mick Doohan, Australia’s motorsport legend, is excited to see the new partnership between Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo at Honda.

Mick Doohan: “[Marc] Marquez has certainly got the desire and as long as he doesn’t burn out, he has plenty of time left in him.” Photo: Getty Images

A discussion on the history of motorsport or its greatest athletes would be incomplete without taking the name of Mick Doohan.

The 53-year-old epitomised the famed Australian toughness and grit by winning five consecutive titles (1994-98) in the 500cc motorcycling championship, the precursor to today’s Moto GP. This, after he had a serious crash in 1992, when he injured his right leg seriously and at one point faced amputation.

The incident had happened at practice for the Dutch TT race when Doohan was leading the championship by 65 points with five wins and two second-place finishes, and was forced to miss three rounds, losing the title by four points. The injury also meant he could not use his right ankle for braking; he had to instead use a left-thumb operated rear brake.

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“It was about physically getting myself back. By the end of the 1993 season, I still had issues with my right leg but the desire to win the championship kept me going. I knew if I could get myself physically fit I could be competitive,” Doohan said.

Doohan is in the city with his son Jack, who prefers four-wheelers and is taking part in the MRF Challenge 2000 this weekend.

‘Excited’

Doohan, of course, keenly follows Moto GP. The most exciting aspect in its new season is that reigning five-time champion Marc Marquez will be joined by three-time champion Jorge Lorenzo at Honda, and the Australian feels the mental strength of the riders will be the crucial factor.

“The Honda bike is primarily built for Marquez because he is the lead rider. The bike development has been heading in his direction. Lorenzo should adapt to the machine fairly well but it will come down to who is mentally the strongest. If Marc likes something and Lorenzo doesn’t, it’s going to start messing with your head. They both are coming off injuries. I am excited to see how it unfolds. Marc is a bit crazy and I don’t think it will bother him. Lorenzo is calm and calculated,” said Doohan.

Doohan also felt Marquez could well become an all-time great of the sport. He said, “He is young enough, just going to turn 26. Rossi’s going to be 40 and he is still there. It’s just about how many years to hang around to surpass that number (eight premier class titles held by Giacomo Agostini). Marquez has certainly got the desire and as long as he doesn’t burn out, he has plenty of time left in him.”

Before signing off, the motorcycling legend also said India can have success at the world level with a strong national series, pointing to the examples of Japan and Malaysia, which produces top riders.