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One of the giants of motor cycle racing, Australia’s Mick Doohan won five consecutive 500cc World Championships between 1994 and 1998, an achievement shared with Valentino Rossi, and second only to Laureus World Sports Academy member Giacomo Agostini, who won seven consecutive championships. In June 1996, Doohan was inducted as a Member of the Order of Australia for his contribution to motor sport.
Doohan made his Grand Prix debut for Honda in 1989 and appeared to be on his way to winning his first World Championship in 1992, when he was seriously injured in a practice crash before the Dutch TT. At the time of the crash, he was 65 points ahead in the World Championship, but he suffered permanent damage to his right leg due to medical complications, and at one stage it was feared that the leg might have to be amputated.
The following season was difficult for him; he both struggled to regain fitness and, consequent to his accident, had to deal with restricted use of his right foot. Honda, however, devised a hand-operated rear brake for him which was operated by a nudge bar mounted on the left handlebar.
With this technical innovation and his restored fitness, Doohan won his first World Championship in 1994 and he dominated the class for five consecutive years until 1998. His most successful year was 1997 when he won 12 out of 15 races and finished second in another two. Frustratingly, he crashed out of the final race of the season at his home Grand Prix whilst holding a lead of more than six seconds.
Although pure riding skill played a large part in his success, his ability to perfect the suspension and geometry of the motor cycle gave him an enormous advantage over his rivals and he was a key part in the development of the Honda bike during the 1990s which helped the team to dominate motor cycling for many years.
In 1999, Doohan had another accident, this time in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix. He again broke his leg in several places and subsequently announced his retirement. After his retirement, he worked as an advisor to Honda's Grand Prix team until 2004.
Many current generation MotoGP riders consider Mick Doohan an inspiration, including fellow Australian Casey Stoner, who became MotoGP World Champion in 2007.