1989 Japanese motorcycle Grand Prix

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Japan  1989 Japanese Grand Prix
Race details
Race 1 of 15 races in the
1989 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season
Circuit Suzuka.png
Date 26 March 1989
Location Suzuka
Course Permanent racing facility
5.821 km (3.618 mi)
500 cc
Pole position
Rider Japan Tadahiko Taira
Time 2:11.860
Fastest lap
Rider United States Kevin Schwantz
Time 2:11.800
First United States Kevin Schwantz
Second United States Wayne Rainey
Third United States Eddie Lawson
250 cc
Pole position
Rider United States John Kocinski
Time 2:17.040
Fastest lap
Rider United States John Kocinski
Time 2:16.720
First United States John Kocinski
Second Spain Sito Pons
Third Italy Luca Cadalora
125 cc
Pole position
Rider Italy Ezio Gianola
Time 2:26.980
Fastest lap
Rider Italy Ezio Gianola
Time 2:26.490
First Italy Ezio Gianola
Second Japan Hisashi Unemoto
Third Japan Koji Takada

The 1989 Japanese motorcycle Grand Prix was the first round of the 1989 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season. It took place on the weekend of 24 to 26 March 1989 at the Suzuka Circuit.

500 cc race report[edit]

Wayne Rainey gets the lead and opens a small gap in the first lap, with Kevin Schwantz moving into second to chase him down. Wayne Gardner and Freddie Spencer go off-track, but get back in the race, while Doohan has a mechanical and Pierfrancesco Chili crashes out.

Schwantz soon catches and passes Rainey at the chicane in a typical late-braking move that leaves Rainey without much room. Rainey, not wanting to let Schwantz through, almost hits Schwantz’ back wheel and loses a lot of time. Schwantz will repeat the chicane pass two more times. From about half-race on, Rainey and Schwantz get in an epic fight, seemingly incapable of wanting to let the other take the lead. Rainey is so committed to staying in front of Schwantz that he does a downhill wheelie on the approach to the hairpin; on this lap alone they swap the lead at least 5 times.

Last lap sees Rainey ahead on the straight, but Schwantz passes into Turn One and manages to hold the lead to the finish line. Crossing the line, Rainey’s arm-flailing betrays his fury, but he manages to extend a hand of congratulations as he comes alongside Schwantz on the cool-down lap. Lawson battles his way through a handful of riders to take 3rd.

Rainey says of the last lap: “I couldn’t see my pit board so I was watching the circuit’s own lap counter over the start line. That clicks down as the leaders go underneath it, but I didn’t realize that. I read L2. I was following Kevin and thinking: why’s he riding so wild when there’s still another lap left? He was being real aggressive, and I was sitting right on him, planning how the next lap I’d draught him on the back straight, then not let him pass me at the chicane. Then we came across the start-finish line and there was the checker. It really pissed me off. Towards the end of 1988 we’d started saying hello to one another. It wasn’t just the two of us anymore. Now our rivalry started to heat up again.”[1]

500 cc classification[edit]

Pos Rider Manufacturer Time/Retired Points
1 United States Kevin Schwantz Suzuki 48:48.370 20
2 United States Wayne Rainey Yamaha +0.420 17
3 United States Eddie Lawson Honda +30.670 15
4 Australia Wayne Gardner Honda +35.190 13
5 Australia Kevin Magee Yamaha +36.420 11
6 United Kingdom Niall Mackenzie Yamaha +39.540 10
7 France Christian Sarron Yamaha +48.470 9
8 Japan Tadahiko Taira Yamaha +48.540 8
9 Japan Norihiko Fujiwara Yamaha +1:09.280 7
10 Japan Shinichi Itoh Honda +1:09.280 6
11 United States Bubba Shobert Honda +1:18.990 5
12 United Kingdom Ron Haslam Suzuki +1:23.880 4
13 Japan Shunji Yatsushiro Honda +1:25.670 3
14 United States Freddie Spencer Yamaha +1:26.000 2
15 Japan Kunio Machii Yamaha +1:29.480 1
16 United States Randy Mamola Cagiva +1:45.800
17 Japan Takazumi Katayama Yamaha +1:46.240
18 France Dominique Sarron Honda +2:12.130
19 Japan Katunori Shinozaki Suzuki +1 Lap
20 Switzerland Marco Gentile Fior +1 Lap
21 Japan Keiji Kinoshita Honda +1 Lap
22 Japan Yoshimasa Matsumoto Honda +2 Laps
23 Spain Francisco Gonzales Honda +2 Laps
Ret United States Doug Polen Suzuki Retirement
Ret Italy Alessandro Valesi Yamaha Retirement
Ret Japan Osamu Hiwatashi Suzuki Retirement
Ret Japan Hikaru Miyagi Honda Retirement
Ret Japan Norio Iobe Honda Retirement
Ret United Kingdom Damon Buckmaster Honda Retirement
Ret Australia Mick Doohan Honda Retirement
Ret Italy Pierfrancesco Chili Honda Retirement


  1. ^ Scott, Michael: "Wayne Rainey", pages 135-136. Haynes Publishing, 1997.

Previous race:
1988 Brazilian Grand Prix
FIM Grand Prix World Championship
1989 season
Next race:
1989 Australian Grand Prix
Previous race:
1988 Japanese Grand Prix
Japanese motorcycle Grand Prix Next race:
1990 Japanese Grand Prix