Rainey stole the title by the slenderest of margins. During the off-season Doohan trained hard to get back to full strength, but the infection was preventing the fractures from knitting. “I pushed too hard in training and the bone started to collapse. Also, I had a big crash during testing and smacked the leg pretty hard.”
During 1993 the limb bent like a banana and he also ground away half the little toe while riding through corners, because he still had no feeling down there. Neither could he move the ankle, so he couldn’t use the rear brake. Only after his crew had created a thumb-operated brake did he get back on the pace.
But he wasn’t there yet. At Laguna Seca he took another nasty tumble (above), caused by the still weak limb. “I was basically hanging onto the bike with my thighs, and my arms were doing all the work. It was a challenge to ride that way.” Doohan has always been a master of understatement.
Surgeons then fitted an external fixator to straighten the wonky leg. During this treatment most people take a lot of painkillers, but not Mighty Mick. “He took so little pain medication, it was almost superhuman,” said his surgeon.
The fixator did the trick and Doohan went on to dominate the next five seasons of 500 GPs. Even now, he insists what he did was nothing special. “I just think it’s easier to put in the effort to finish as high as you can than it is to be happy with second or third.”
Easier said than done for most of us.