Very nearly losing a leg should have stopped Mick Doohan. But it didn’t…

Mick Doohan is without doubt the bravest racer to ever take to the track.

At the top of his game and about to take the grand prix world by storm in 1992, he fell heavily during qualifying for the Dutch TT – his Honda NSR500 tossing him skywards in a massive highside and landing on top of him, smashing his right leg, breaking the tibia and fibula in the process.

While it was indeed a bad break, the expectations were that he would heal, and be back on the bike as good as new.

In fact, complications and some very dodgy medical advice from the Dutch doctors saw his leg worsen markedly.

Pictures from the time revealed the legs sewn together in an effort to keep the damaged tissue alive and talk of amputation filled the GP world with dread. Doohan was in desperate trouble.

Enter the now infamous, Dr Costa and his Clinica Mobile who decided to personally oversee Mick’s recovery – remarkably he would miss just four rounds.

Doohan was in very poor physical shape, but he was always going to get back on that bike as early as possible. “I’d lost six kilos, and had been pretty lean to start with; I was run down, beat up and on some pretty strong pills,” he said.

It’s history now that he lost the championship to Wayne Rainey that year, a mere four points adrift. The motivation for him to get back to the winner’s dais could not have been stronger. His leg was never to recover to anything like normal.

In fact, he could no longer use the rear brake and Honda came up with the well-known fix of a thumb operated setup. Against all odds, Doohan was back in the game.

It’s history now that Doohan went on to take his first 500cc world championship in 1994, totally dominating to win five consecutive titles.

In 1997, his most successful year, Doohan won 12 out of 15 races, finished second in another two, and crashed out of the final race of the season at his home GP while leading by more than six seconds. He looked unstoppable. Again, that was not the case.

Sadly it was another crash that was to draw the curtain on his amazing career. It happened during qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix of 1999.

Doohan ran wide and touched a painted line. A highside at over 200km/h and a broken wrist, collarbone, foot, hand, leg and ribs was the result.

Still he wanted to come back, but eight months later he admitted his body could no longer stand the rigours.

Following his retirement he underwent a succession of operations, his leg and foot now filled with metal framework.

Brave? You betcha.

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