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MotoGP™ Magic Moments: Aussie wins historic Phillip Island race

Tuesday, 11 October 2022

A huge crowd piled into the iconic Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit to see history made in 1989.

Australia was hosting its first-ever world championship motorcycle Grand Prix race, and with four locals in the field, they had no shortage of riders to cheer.

Wayne Gardner headed that list, the 1987 world champion joined by Kevin Magee, Michael Dowson and a rookie by the name of Mick Doohan.


Gardner was pipped to the 1988 world title by rival Eddie Lawson, who sensationally made the off-season switch from Yamaha to Honda to become a teammate of the Australian.

The Phillip Island event was the second of the campaign and Gardner’s fourth-placed finish at the Japan season-opener left him hellbent on winning at Phillip Island to ignite his title charge.

It's your last chance to secure Grandstand tickets to Race Day at the Animoca Brands Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix 2022.

In a race that will go down in Australian motorsport folklore, Kevin Schwantz, who qualified first, was first to fall off his bike, as Gardner and Yamaha’s Wayne Rainey traded the early lead on several occasions.

Frenchman Christian Sarron caught up, too, and even enjoyed a brief stint in the lead, while Magee was not far behind.

But it was mostly a battle between Gardner and Rainey, the pair coming close to colliding on several occasions.

Rainey was later to describe Gardner’s racing style as like a “bulldog” and the passionate fans roared at each of the 19 lead changes, particularly when the latter moved to the front.

The last of those lead changes came with three laps to go as Gardner pounced again before he held off his rivals on a thrilling final lap.

Carrying the Australian flag around on a victory lap, Gardner was then mobbed by his then-wife, Donna, who ran down the track to embrace her husband.

“It was a race I really wanted to win,” Gardner later told fans from the podium.

“I still think I’m dreaming now. I’ve got to keep pinching myself.”

He ended up finishing +0.350 seconds ahead of Rainey, while Sarron rounded out the podium places.

Magee narrowly missed out on making the top three and was forced to settle for fourth despite finishing more than nine seconds quicker than the fifth-placed Lawson.

There were two more Aussies in the top 10, too, with Doohan finishing eighth, one place ahead of Dowson.