MotoGP's Best Battles: No9 Phillip Island 1989
Our pick of the 10 greatest premier-class multi-rider dogfights of all time
his was Australia’s first Grand Prix and therefore most riders’ first visit to the island circuit off the nation’s south-east coast.
The huge crowd was treated to a nerve-wracking display of warp-speed brinkmanship as Wayne Gardner (Rothmans Honda NSR500), Christian Sarron (Gauloises Yamaha YZR500) and Lucky Strike Yamaha team-mates Wayne Rainey and Kevin Magee fought for supremacy. Kevin Schwantz would’ve been with them, but his Pepsi Suzuki RGV500 spat him off on the first lap.
Rainey led, Gardner grabbing big handfuls of throttle in pursuit, with Magee and Sarron coming with him, the Frenchman’s old-school technique working superbly through the fast, flowing corners. Gardner took the lead, then Sarron, then Rainey again, just inches between them as they rode side by side through the sweepers.
The Aussie fans went wild when Gardner snatched the lead for the last time from Rainey, who counter-attacked several times on the final lap, never quite finding the room to get past.
Words Mat Oxley