1996 Jerez 500GP - Spectacular Last Lap Video
Alex Criville vs Mick Doohan on the final lap of the 1996 Jerez 500GP. I watched this race on TV in '96 and its one I will never forget.
The fans (they are historicly out of control at Jerez) storm the track on the last lap.
As always, Doohan keeps focus, despite passing literally within inches of of some of the fans at speeds that would surely have killed them both had he hit them, but Criville backs out of it for a moment surrendering the lead to Doohan. When he realizes what is happening, Alex grabs a big 'ole handful of throttle in a desperate attempt to regain the lead and proceeds to highside himself right out of the race.
Alex later berated his fellow countrymen in the press for spoiling the chance of his first ever 500GP win. Alex eventually became 500 GP World Champion in 1999. That same year, Mick Doohan crashed heavily at of all places Jerez, ending his career.
Having walked the tightrope that is riding a 500cc MotoGP machine for so many years and recovered [well partially] from so many accidents, Jerez would be the track at which the tightrope finally broke. There would be no coming back from this one.
The crash occurred during first qualifying; Doohan ran wide at high speed and touched a slippery white line. His NSR's rear wheel promptly ‘spun up' and he was highsided at over 200 km/h.
Mick slammed into an unprotected area of Armco, breaking his wrist, collarbone, foot, hand, leg and ribs to name but the main injuries.
1996 – Making a fight of it.
The European new boys finally stepped up their game in 1996 and Doohan now had a real fight on his hands. Luca Cadalora won the first race of the year, but Mick took pole and victory next time out at Indonesia.
However, the quiet Criville was now rising to the fore and – swept along on the Spanish patriotism – was eager to prove he could beat his esteemed team-mate at his home GP in Jerez.
Criville and Doohan battled spectacularly to the last lap, but then a track invasion and last corner crash by Criville handed Doohan an unpopular [in the local eyes] victory.
With Criville's confidence shaken, Doohan notched up another three victories in a row and was well in command of the title when he was surprisingly beaten by Criville at Austria. The dark eyed Spaniard finally claiming his first ever 500cc victory.
Although Doohan took the title – anything else would have been a shock – the latter part of the year was marred by 'tow truck' allegations directed towards Criville, who would follow until the last lap then attack.
Mick wanted a return to the 'straight' races of the past, Criville didn't care – it might not be pretty, but being 'towed' by Mick was his best chance of beating him. Just to add to the tension in the Honda camp, Criville rammed Doohan off at the last Grand Prix of the year.