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Mick Doohan: `Business as usual´

Mick Doohan: `Business as usual´

Mick Doohan: `Business as usual´

Whilst I really don´t feel it is my place to comment on the death of Daijiro Kato out of respect for his family, there is no doubt that it will cast a shadow over the Grand Prix at Welkom this weekend. It is a difficult situation for the riders, and I remember similar times in my own career when members of my own family were seriously injured or guys I raced against passed away. In Grand Prix the likes of Alberto Puig and Wayne Rainey were badly injured but escaped with their lives, and for the rest of the riders at times like these it is a case of `business as usual´. For them, that means getting on with winning the World Championship, for themselves and for their team, and I think it would be very wrong of any of them to generate any publicity for themselves out of this tragedy.

Looking back to this race last year, Honda dominated with Tohru Ukawa winning the race from Valentino Rossi, and it is clearly a track both riders like. At that time Honda were really the only manufacturer to have developed a competitive four-stroke, which we didn´t really expect before the racing started, but this year it is a totally different ball game.

The Ducati certainly now looks accomplished in both its power and handling. I think it would be a tall order for Troy Bayliss to compete with someone like Valentino at the moment, but certainly Loris Capirossi is capable. Loris showed at Suzuka, just as he has done time and again over the years, that he is good for a few laps but there is still the question of whether he can maintain it over a full race. I don´t know whether it is his stamina or his concentration, but so far he has not demonstrated enough to make a real challenge. He did well at this track last year on the two-stroke, though, so he could be the man to watch this Sunday.

Of course, it is another chance for Biaggi to show what he can do on the Honda. He had a good result at Suzuka, even though he made some uncharacteristic mistakes during the race, and he will be keen to improve on that performance. I am not sure exactly how strong Barros is with his knee injury, but we all know he is a contender if fully fit. The question is over his Yamaha, and whether it can compete with the Hondas and the Ducatis. At the moment it can´t, and neither can the Suzukis or the Kawasakis – it seems they are only playing half of the game.

MotoGP, 2003, Mick Doohan

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