Australian GP 1990: Aussie one-two in Phillip Island thriller

Legendary Moments Series

Wayne Gardner on track at Phillip Island for the Australian Grand Prix 1990.

Australian hero Wayne Gardner’s hopes of making it two in a row at Phillip Island looked shot.

Not only was he riding with a broken wrist at the 1990 Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, the fairing of his Honda was hanging off his bike after an incident on Lap 2.

“I had plans to pull in after about five laps,” Gardner later confessed in an interview.

The race was the final event of the season, having been moved from April to September, and the 500cc title had already been claimed by Yamaha’s Wayne Rainey.

Gardner, winner of the inaugural Australian event in 1989, could have been easily forgiven for calling it quits, but his rivalry with compatriot Mick Doohan was brewing.

And he acknowledged that it was Doohan, who started from pole, that kept him on his bike.

“I didn’t think it was possible [to keep racing],” Gardner said.

“I don’t know what it was. I think it was Mick leading the race and pulling away and I just went, ‘Well, come on, one last go, one last push, just to see if I can do this’.

“I don’t know where I found it, but I got something out of me that I never thought existed and pushed on through the pain barrier.”


But Gardner did more than just push through the pain barrier.

He made a genuine race of it, initially pushing the likes of Kevin Schwantz, Rainey and Doohan.

The battle was hot at the top of the field and the crowd was left stunned when Gardner produced an overtake on Doohan.

Schwantz did not have happy memories of Phillip Island, having crashed out on the first lap in 1989 despite qualifying fastest, and he would again fail to finish after a highside.

This reduced the battle for top spot to three and as Rainey dropped off slightly, it became clear it would be a battle between Gardner and Doohan.

Gardner ultimately claimed a thrilling victory by just 0.856 seconds, Doohan forced to settle for second in the first Australian one-two finish in the 500cc class.

World Champion Rainey, who beat Schwantz for the 500cc crown by 67 points, took third.

The race would be the last at Phillip Island until 1997, with the event temporarily moving to Eastern Creek.

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