Crash gives Doohan win in Spanish GP

 

AUSTRALIA'S world 500cc champion Michael Doohan snatched victory in the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez, Spain yesterday after local hope Alex Criville crashed on the final bend.

Criville had held off a strong challenge from fellow Honda rider Doohan for 24 of the race's 27 laps.

With the finish line in sight, the home fans were already celebrating Criville's victory as Doohan took the Spaniard on the inside, and the local rider lost control as he tried to fight back.

Criville had taken the lead from Italian Luca Cadalora on the third lap and somehow hung on despite strong pressure from both the Australian and the Italian riders.

But Doohan's experience proved too much for the Spaniard, who walked away from the accident apparently unhurt.

The Spanish fans whistled at the Australian as he stood on the winners' podium, but action replays confirmed Doohan had played no part in the crash.

Caladora was runner up, with Japan's Takayuki Okada coming in third and Italy's Loris Capirosssi fourth.

Last year's winner, Alberto Puig, who is still recovering from injury, scored a commendable fifth to give the home fans some joy, while Kenny Roberts junior, son of the former world champion, came sixth in the best performance of his brief 500cc career.

Doohan said he had left his challenge to the end of the race.

Alex was riding on a high.

"I knew that if I took him, he'd be back again and he would close the gap," said Doohan, who has increased his lead in the world championship standings.

He is now on 71 points, with Cadalora on 55 and Brazil's Alexandre Barros, who finished seventh, on 48.