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1990: British Motorcycle GP, Donnington

A set pulled from the halide archive of colour negatives, and scanned to digital. The summer of 1990, was at the end of my first year at university, and I had arranged a work-placement for the long break, with local plastic extrusion firm Piano-Forte Plastics in Walesbourne, near Stratford. When I started uni, my Dad, gave me my first 'car'. As in it had more than two seats. Barely! A horrible Citroen LNA11RE the best thing about it was it was red. The worst thing about it, was that it kept blowing up in a cloud of steam! Consequently, when the bank manager complained I had spent more than it was worth trying to keep fixing it, I had taken out a credit agreement & bought my Kawasaki AR125 so I could get to work ever day. However, over the summer, working in the tool room, I spent my evenings rebuilding the 'Lemon's engine. As it still had tax, test and insurance, and I didn't know any other way to get to Donnington, but down the motorway I couldn't use on L-Plates; I decided to celebrate its resuscitation by using it to take the camera to the British Motorcycle GP! I had only had an SLR camera a few months at this point, and it hadn't had much use! But I was quite pleased with what I got.

Self portrait in the car mirror, after loading the camera
Self portrait in the car mirror, after loading the camera. My first SLR, a hand-me-down Olympus OM10 with accessory 'manual adaptor'! And yes, that bit of car is the Lemon. Hey, had good wing-mirrors if nothing else!

The 'Bike-Park' on the way in. A LOT of machines there; possibly as much of a show as the race itself!
The 'Bike-Park' on the way in. A LOT of machines there; possibly as much of a show as the race itself!

Pretty little Aprillia AF1 in the car-park
Pretty little Aprilia AF1 in the car-park. One of the early non-learner-legal 125 'exotics' with near race tuned two-stroke engine, and full on race replica styling and a price tag higher than a brand new RD350YPVS, but such features as single sided swing-arm and twin-headlamp full fearing. And yes.. I do believe that hiding just behind it is a Vincent Black Shadow!

creative effect Aprillia AF!
When I saw the negative of the Aprila picture, I noticed that the colours of the paint-scheme were almost their own compliments, and wanted to do 'something' creative to show the positive & negative........ I'm still working on it!

No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki; No.2; Wayne Rainey,Yamaha
No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki; No.2; Wayne Rainey,Yamaha. But... I was there to watch some RACING! And these two were making the GP Circus their own that season. The Wild Texan & the Cool Californian.

The Slide Rule; to rule, you must slide! This was one of the golden years of 500GP racing, when two-strokes ruled, and the five-hundred-four's were fearsome and ferocious! 180bhp, 140Kg and tyres that just didn't know how to handle it! Masters of these machines came from American and Australian Dirt-track, and battled it out, at 100+mph sliding the bikes round corners spinning the back wheel like they were on cinders.

No.1; Eddie Lawson,Yamaha; No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki; No.9; Mick Doohan, Honda
No.1; Eddie Lawson,Yamaha; No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki; No.9; Mick Doohan, Honda

The Americans: raining Champion, Eddie Lawson, (No.1) riding for Team Roberts Yamaha, was striving to hold off up-and-coming team mate, Wayne Rainey (No.2), trying for his first title, while Kevin Schwantz (No.34), tried to stop him.

No.1; Eddie Lawson,Yamaha
No.1; Eddie Lawson,Yamaha

No.1; Eddie Lawson,Yamaha; No.2; Wayne Rainey,Yamaha; No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki
No.1; Eddie Lawson,Yamaha; No.2; Wayne Rainey,Yamaha; No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki

No.1; Eddie Lawson,Yamaha; No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki
No.1; Eddie Lawson,Yamaha; No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki
No.1; Eddie Lawson,Yamaha; No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki
No.1; Eddie Lawson,Yamaha; No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki

No.1; Eddie Lawson,Yamaha; No.2; Wayne Rainey,Yamaha; No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki
No.1; Eddie Lawson,Yamaha; No.2; Wayne Rainey,Yamaha; No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki

Wayne Rainey,Yamaha; No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki
No.2; Wayne Rainey,Yamaha; No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki

 No.2; Wayne Rainey,Yamaha
No.2; Wayne Rainey,Yamaha

No.2; Wayne Rainey,Yamaha
No.2; Wayne Rainey,Yamaha

No.1; Eddie Lawson,Yamaha
No.1; Eddie Lawson,Yamaha

No.1; Eddie Lawson,Yamaha
No.1; Eddie Lawson,Yamaha

The Ozzy's rode Honda's and 1987 Champ, Wayne Gardner (No.10), was starting to be over shadowed by upstart team mate, the young Mick Doohan (No.9).

No.9; Mick Doohan, Honda
No.9; Mick Doohan, Honda

No.9; Mick Doohan, Honda
No.9; Mick Doohan, Honda

No.9; Mick Doohan, Honda; No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki
No.9; Mick Doohan, Honda; No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki

The Brits got a look in; but only just. Scot, Niall Mackenzie (No.7), taking the number 2 bike for Suzuki, and showing a lot of promise... if only he got 'A' rider tyres. Carl Foggerty (No.55), in his debut season in the Blue Ribbon Class, given a semi-works ROC Honda, was not faring well, and not doing himself any favours moaning about it.

No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki
No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki

No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki
No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki

No.9; Mick Doohan, Honda; No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki
No.9; Mick Doohan, Honda; No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki

No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki
No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki

No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki
No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki

No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki
No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki

No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki
No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki

Meanwhile, struggling to make a competitive bike, Cagiva blanketed the field with talent. American veteran Randy Mamola (No.18), veteran Brit, Ron Haslam (No.8), and young Brazilian Alex Barros (No.28), mixing American Cool, with British Reserve, and Latin passion, to put on a circus of red machines, swapping positions on every lap, entertaining the crowd.

No.8; Ron Haslam; Cagiva; No.28; Alex Barros, Cagiva
No.8; Ron Haslam; Cagiva; No.28; Alex Barros, Cagiva

No.8; Ron Haslam; Cagiva; No.28; Alex Barros, Cagiva
No.8; Ron Haslam; Cagiva; No.28; Alex Barros, Cagiva

No.8; Ron Haslam; Cagiva; No.28; Alex Barros, Cagiva
No.8; Ron Haslam; Cagiva; No.28; Alex Barros, Cagiva

No.28; Alex Barros, Cagiva
No.28; Alex Barros, Cagiva

No.8; Ron Haslam
No.8; Ron Haslam

No.28; Alex Barros, Cagiva
No.28; Alex Barros, Cagiva

No.8; Ron Haslam; Cagiva
No.8; Ron Haslam; Cagiva

No.18; Randy Mamola, Cagiva; No.3; Christian Sarron, Yamaha
No.18; Randy Mamola, Cagiva; No.3; Christian Sarron, Yamaha

No.18; Randy Mamola, Cagiva; No.3; Christian Sarron, Yamaha
No.18; Randy Mamola, Cagiva; No.3; Christian Sarron, Yamaha

No.8; Ron Haslam; Cagiva; No.28; Alex Barros, Cagiva
No.8; Ron Haslam; Cagiva; No.28; Alex Barros, Cagiva

No.8; Ron Haslam; Cagiva
No.8; Ron Haslam; Cagiva

GP500; #8 Ron Haslam; Cagiva; #31 Marco Papa; Honda; #28 Alex Barros; Cagiva  with Ron Haslam and Marco Papa
 #8 Ron Haslam; Cagiva; #31 Marco Papa; Honda; #28 Alex Barros; Cagiva

GP500; #8 Ron Haslam; Cagiva; #31 Marco Papa; Honda
GP500; #8 Ron Haslam; Cagiva; #31 Marco Papa; Honda

No. 18 Randy Mamola, riding the Cagiva
No. 18 Randy Mamola, riding the Cagiva

No. 18 Randy Mamola, riding the Cagiva
No. 18 Randy Mamola, riding the Cagiva

No.31; Marco Papa, Honda
No.31; Marco Papa, Honda

But this was to be Kevin Schwantz's day. It was his 'home' track as far as where Team Suzuki did all their testing; and it paid off for him here. The early three way battle with Lawson & Rainey, becoming a duel between Schwantz & Rainey, almost down to the flag.

No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki
No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki

No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki
No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki

No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki
No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki

No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki
No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki

Donnington Marshals
Donnington Marshals

No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki
No.7; Niall Mackenzie, Suzuki

No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki
No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki

No.2; Wayne Rainey,Yamaha; No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki
No.2; Wayne Rainey,Yamaha; No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki

No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki
No.34; Kevin Schwantz, Suzuki

Track Invasion at end of 500GP
Track Invasion at end of 500GP

500 GP Race Results

Pos No   Rider Manufacturer Time/Retired  Points
1 34 United States Kevin Schwantz Suzuk i 47:15.770 20
2 2 United States Wayne Rainey Yamaha +2.138 17
3 1 United States Eddie Lawson Yamaha +9.436 15
4 9 Australia Mick Doohan Honda +40.383 13
5 7 United Kingdom Niall Mackenzie Suzuki +59.608 11
6 18 United States Randy Mamola Cagiva +1:07.650 10
7   Spain Juan Garriga Yamaha +1:21.386 9
8   France Christian Sarron Yamaha +1:22.684 8
9   France Jean Philippe Ruggia Yamaha +1:26.385 7
10 8 United Kingdom Ron Haslam Cagiva +1:35.549 6
11 28  Brazil Alex Barros Cagiva +1:36.041 5
12   Republic of Ireland Eddie Laycock Honda +1 Lap 4  
13 31 Italy  Marco Papa Honda +1 Lap 3  
14   Luxembourg Andreas Leuthe  Honda +1 Lap 2  
Ret 10 Australia Wayne Gardner Honda Retirement  
Ret   United Kingdom Carl Fogarty Honda Retirement  
Ret   Netherlands Cees Doorakkers Honda  Retirement  
Ret   Spain Sito Pons Honda Retirement  

Between Races Entertainment

Motorcycle Display Team
Motorcycle Display Team. They aren't the Royal Signals White-Helmets. I cant remember who they were! I have a feeling they were the RAF team.

Motorcycle Display Team
They had to keep this up right around the track!

So onto the other races of the day. The 125's were always awesome to watch. Without the shear excess of power, it makes for much closer racing... and many riders get VERY intimate with each other!

125 Race, they all pile into Redgate with abandon
First corner after the start, they all pile into Redgate with abandon, many didn't make it round, and the marshals were trying to pick up fallen bikes and fallen riders and pair the right ones back together!

125 Race, they all pile into Redgate with abandon
They may not have the speed of the big-bikes, but bravery these boys have in spades; they just DON'T back off! Its as flat out as they can get every where!

British Motorcycle GP 1990 - Donnington
Yeah... shame about the chain-link. I had yet to learn how to take pictures through it.

Onto the chariots: I haven't worked out who's who in these shots. I think that No1 was Webster & Hewit, though might have been the season Hewit couldn't partner him and it was the other fella!

British Motorcycle GP 1990 - Donnington
Bonkers these things. Only closed circuit racing that the vehicles carry two people, you know.

British Motorcycle GP 1990 - Donnington
No.1 Webster?

British Motorcycle GP 1990 - Donnington
No Idea who this is, but the passenger is making close inspection of close range tarmac!

British Motorcycle GP 1990 - Donnington
And the super-bike boys think they know all there is to know abbout 'Hanging off'!

The 250's. Again, I haven't checked the who's who on all these. It was the most populated class. These bikes were pushing about 90bhp from a two-stroke 250 twin; as much as the 500 that took Barry Shene to world championships barely fifteen years earlier; yet hardly any heavier than the 125's. In fact most of these GP 250'sm with as much power as a modern Sports 600 road-bike, weighed less than a 125 commuter! About 120Kg. Many reckoned that this was the most demanding class; requiring the technical skill and bravery of the 125's, with the race tactics and shear balls of the 500 riders.

250's at the chicane, behind chainlink; GP250; #11 Loris Reggiani; Aprilia; #23 Adrien Morillas; Aprilia; #48 Paolo Casoli; Yamaha; #32 Harald Eckl; Aprilia
250's at the chicane, behind chainlink; GP250; #11 Loris Reggiani; Aprilia; #23 Adrien Morillas; Aprilia; #48 Paolo Casoli; Yamaha; #32 Harald Eckl; Aprilia

250's at the chicane, behind chainlink; GP250: #9 Helmut Bradl; Honda; #10 Martin Wimmer; Aprilia; #6 Masahiro Shimizu; Honda; #4 Carlos Card
250's at the chicane, behind chainlink; GP250: #9 Helmut Bradl; Honda; #10 Martin Wimmer; Aprilia; #6 Masahiro Shimizu; Honda; #4 Carlos Card

No.19; John Kocinski, Yamaha
No.19; John Kocinski, Yamaha

No.19; John Kocinski, Yamaha
No.19; John Kocinski, Yamaha

No.19; John Kocinski, Yamaha
No.19; John Kocinski, Yamaha

No.19; John Kocinski, Yamaha
No.19; John Kocinski, Yamaha

No.19; John Kocinski, Yamaha
No.19; John Kocinski, Yamaha

British Motorcycle GP 1990 - Donnington
I think that's John Kocinski again, but look at all the spectators on the banking. A veritable field of folk.

British Motorcycle GP 1990 - Donnington
Nice wide shot of I think its Craner Curves, a very fast past of the track.. probably why I have missed all the riders!

So, that was my Day out... and for once; amazingly, given that it was one of the hottest days of the summer, I made it home without the Lemon doing a Sauna impression!

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