Wayne Gardner

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Wayne Gardner
Wayne Gardner 1989 Japanese GP.jpg
Wayne Gardner at the 1989 Japanese GP
Nationality Australian
Born (1959-10-11) 11 October 1959 (age 54)
Wollongong, New South Wales
Motorcycle racing career statistics
Grand Prix motorcycle racing
Active years 1983 - 1992
First race 1983 500 cc Dutch TT
Last race 1992 500 cc South African Grand Prix
First win 1986 500 cc Spanish Grand Prix
Last win 1992 500 cc British Grand Prix
Team(s) Honda
Championships 500 cc - 1987
Starts Wins Podiums Poles F. laps Points
100 18 51 19 19 1074

Wayne Michael Gardner AM[1] (born (1959-10-11)11 October 1959 in Wollongong, New South Wales) is a former Grand Prix motorcycle road racer and touring car racer. His most notable achievement was winning the 1987 500 cc Motorcycle World Championship, becoming the first Australian to win motorcycling's premier class.[2] His success on the world motorcycle racing circuit earned him the nickname The Wollongong Whiz.

Motorcycle career[edit]

Wayne Gardner 1992 Japanese GP.jpg

Gardner began his racing career in 1977 at age 18, riding a second-hand Yamaha TZ250 bike in the Australian championship and finishing second on debut at Amaroo Park. He went on to record his first win a few weeks later at Oran Park Raceway.[3]

He made his debut in 500 cc Grand Prix racing at the Dutch TT at Assen in 1983 with the Honda Britain team, though he failed to score a point that season. He rode for the team in 1984 in only five of the seasons twelve races, and finished 7th in the championship with 33 points, gaining his first podium at Anderstorp in Sweden.

Wayne Gardner scored his first Grand Prix race win at the Jarama circuit in Spain in 1986, before going on to win two more races and finish second in the championship behind Eddie Lawson. In 1987 became the first Australian to win the 500 cc World Championship, winning seven of sixteen races and wrapping up the title with a win in the penultimate round in Brazil at Goiânia. Gardner's race engineer in 1987 was fellow Australian Jeremy Burgess who had previously worked with 1985 World Champion Freddie Spencer.

In defense of his title in 1988, Gardner was hampered by the Honda NSR500 not being easy to ride. He finished second in the championship behind American Eddie Lawson who rode for the factory Marlboro Yamaha team. He still managed wins in the Netherlands, Belgium, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, and would have won at the Paul Ricard Circuit in France had he not suffered mechanical problems only a third of a lap from the finish while holding a 2 second lead.

Gardner's 1987 World Championship saw a sharp rise in the popularity of Grand Prix Motorcycle racing in Australia, with increased television and print media coverage. This led to the inaugural running of the Australian motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island in 1989. The Wollongong Whiz gave the home crowd something to cheer as he won his home race in 1989, just edging out Wayne Rainey and Christian Sarron. Unfortunately his season would come unglued at the next round at Laguna Seca where he crashed and broke his leg, causing him to miss half of the season.[2][3] From the 1985 season, Gardner raced for the factory Rothmans Honda team and was joined on that team by fellow Australian Michael Doohan in 1989. Ironically, Eddie Lawson also joined Rothmans Honda in 1989 and would go on to win his fourth World Championship.[3]

Gardner had a frustrating season in 1990. After winning at Jerez in Spain, he missed three rounds through injury and only managed 5th in the World Championship. He did finish the season on a high note though, winning his second straight Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island from team mate Mick Doohan and World Champion elect Wayne Rainey. For over half the race, Gardner had to contend with the faring of his Honda threatening to part company with the bike after some of the front mountings had broken.

Gardner also won four Suzuka 8 Hours races in 1985, 1986, 1991 and 1992.[4][5][6][7]

Gardner retired from motorcycle racing following the 1992 season but stayed closely involved with the sport, helping various riders like Daryl Beattie early in their careers. He rode at special events like the Goodwood Festival of Speed on classic Honda motorcycles and raced again at the Goodwood race meeting against fellow bikers James Whitham, the late Barry Sheene and ex-Formula One driver Damon Hill.

Four-wheel racing career[edit]

Wayne Gardner
Nationality Australian
Born (1959-10-11) 11 October 1959 (age 54)
Wollongong, NSW, Australia
Retired 2002
All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship
Years active 1996-2002
Teams TOM's
Best finish 6th in 2001 All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship
Previous series
1993-2002 V8 Supercar

Wayne Gardner's first foray into car racing came when he was to race a Formula Holden in the final round of the 1990 Australian Drivers' Championship which was run as a support race to that years Australian Formula One Grand Prix, driving a Shrike 002 built and developed for the category by the students of the Croydon Park Institute of TAFE in Adelaide where the race was held. After only arriving in Adelaide on the opening day of practice having spent the previous week in Japan testing his 1991 NRS500 Grand Prix bike, Gardner had qualified in a credible 11th place for his first competitive drive in an Open-wheel car. However, a crash into the wall just past the chicane at the end of the pit straight when he spun on coolant that had been dropped by the Ralt RT20 of Drew Price, heavily damaged the front of the car. He was hopeful that the car could be repaired for the race, but his chances ended when another car also spun on the coolant and crashed into the Shrike damaging it beyond immediate repair.

Following his retirement from the 500 cc championship at the end of 1992, Gardner turned his interests to four-wheeled motorsport.[8] He began his touring car career in 1992, driving the Raider Motorsport built Bob Forbes Racing Holden VN Commodore SS Group A, leased by Graham Moore for the 1992 Tooheys 1000 at Bathurst. The Moore/Gardner Commodore finished the crash shortened race in 26th place after qualifying 21st. Gardner's first drive in the race happened to be soon after the circuit was hit by rain which lasted for almost two hours, and his cause was not helped by the Commodore's windscreen de-mister not working which saw the screen fog up making visibility, already poor due to the heavy rain and fog on The Mountain, almost impossible.

In 1993, Gardner was recruited to drive a VP Commodore for the Holden Racing Team in the 1993 Australian Touring Car Championship, the first year of the 5.0 litre touring cars which would later become the V8 Supercars. In November 1993, Gardner won one of the Group A support races at the Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide, after earlier in the year finishing third Tooheys 1000 co-driving with Brad Jones.[9] Many incidents while driving for the Holden Racing Team in 1993 led to him being given the nickname "Captain Chaos", and it was thought that his continued on-track clashes was what had led to his brief suspension from the team for that year's Sandown 500, though the real reason was that Gardner had been openly talking to both Holden and Coca-Cola about starting his own team.

For the 1994 season, Gardner formed his own team, Wayne Gardner Racing (sponsored by Coca-Cola), where he raced for three seasons with team mate, Channel 7 commentator Neil Crompton. The team's low point came at the Bathurst round of the 1995 ATCC in March. Soon after the start of the first heat, Crompton was hit by the VP Commodore of Phil Ward. This pushed him straight into Gardner's car and both of the Coke sponsored cars ended their race in the wall before they got to Hell Corner on the first lap (Ward continued on with little to no damage). The team recovered though and Gardner sensationally won the start and led the opening laps of the 1995 Tooheys 1000, before he and Crompton went on to finish 3rd in the race, while their team mates Brad Jones and former Bathurst winner Win Percy finished 5th, only a few seconds behind.

The team folded after a partial 1999 season with a leased car from Perkins Engineering, but he continued racing V8 Supercars until 2002, with the highlight of taking pole position for the FIA 1000 at Bathurst in appalling conditions. Wayne Gardner also took a surprise win in the first round in the V8 Supercar Championship's inaugural season in 1997, at Calder Park Raceway. It was surprising as Gardner had announced that a lack of available funds would likely cause him to not race the full 1997 season and he wasn't considered a race or championship favourite.

Gardner also made a foray into the All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship, racing a works Toyota Supra in 1996, and raced in this competition until his retirement from motorsport in 2002.[10][11] He won a round of the championship in 1999 (at Fuji Speedway) and 2001 (at Sportsland SUGO). He also had the distinction in 2001 of being the only Toyota driver to finish every race that season, and he also finished every race in the points.

Gardner made a one-off appearance at the 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans. Gardner was entered in the Riley & Scott with Philippe Gache and fellow ex-motorcycle rider Didier de Radiguès. They qualified 26th, but failed to finish due to engine problems after completing 155 laps.[12]

Wayne Gardner donated his handprints in 1993 to assist endangered species and world peace causes with Davson's Artists For Life charity.

Honours[edit]

Grand Prix career statistics[2][edit]

Points system from 1969 to 1987:

Position 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Points 15 12 10 8 6 5 4 3 2 1

Points system from 1988 to 1992:

Position 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Points 20 17 15 13 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Class Team Machine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Points Rank Wins
1983 500cc Honda Britain NS500 RSA
-
FRA
-
NAT
-
GER
-
ESP
-
AUT
-
YUG
-
NED
NC
BEL
-
GBR
NC
SWE
-
RSM
-
0 - 0
1984 500cc Honda Britain NS500 RSA
-
NAT
4
ESP
-
AUT
-
GER
-
FRA
-
YUG
-
NED
5
BEL
7
GBR
6
SWE
3
RSM
-
33 7th 0
1985 500cc Rothmans Honda NSR500 RSA
3
ESP
4
GER
6
NAT
3
AUT
15
YUG
3
NED
3
BEL
4
FRA
NC
GBR
NC
SWE
NC
RSM
2
73 4th 0
1986 500cc Rothmans Honda NSR500 ESP
1
NAT
16
GER
2
AUT
2
YUG
3
NED
1
BEL
4
FRA
5
GBR
1
SWE
2
RSM
2
117 2nd 3
1987 500cc Rothmans Honda NSR500 JPN
2
ESP
1
GER
10
NAT
1
AUT
1
YUG
1
NED
2
FRA
4
GBR
2
SWE
1
CZE
1
RSM
3
POR
4
BRA
1
ARG
3
178 1st 7
1988 500cc Rothmans Honda NSR500 JPN
2
USA
2
ESP
3
EXP
5
NAT
2
GER
8
AUT
NC
NED
1
BEL
1
YUG
1
FRA
4
GBR
2
SWE
2
CZE
1
BRA
2
229 2nd 4
1989 500cc Rothmans Honda NSR500 JPN
4
AUS
1
USA
NC
ESP
INJ
NAT
INJ
GER
INJ
AUT
INJ
YUG
INJ
NED
6
BEL
NC
FRA
NC
GBR
NC
SWE
3
CZE
-
BRA
7
67 10th 1
1990 500cc Rothmans Honda NSR500 JPN
2
USA
NC
ESP
1
NAT
4
GER
INJ
AUT
INJ
YUG
INJ
NED
NC
BEL
10
FRA
2
GBR
NC
SWE
3
CZE
2
HUN
4
AUS
1
138 5th 2
1991 500cc Rothmans Honda NSR500 JPN
5
AUS
4
USA
7
ESP
7
ITA
-
GER
5
AUT
4
EUR
3
NED
3
FRA
10
GBR
5
RSM
4
CZE
4
VDM
5
MAL
2
161 5th 0
1992 500cc Rothmans Honda NSR500 JPN
NC
AUS
-
MAL
-
ESP
-
ITA
DNS
EUR
-
GER
3
NED
-
HUN
6
FRA
2
GBR
1
BRA
4
RSA
2
78 6th 1

Car racing results[edit]

In part sourced from[16]

Year Title/ Event Position Car Entrant
1993 Australian Touring Car Championship 14th Holden VP Commodore Holden Racing Team
1994 Australian Touring Car Championship 12th Holden VP Commodore Wayne Gardner Racing
1995 Australian Touring Car Championship 9th Holden VR Commodore Wayne Gardner Racing
1996 Australian Touring Car Championship 7th Holden VR Commodore Wayne Gardner Racing
1996 All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship: GT500 10th Toyota Supra Toyota Team SARD
1997 Australian Touring Car Championship 9th Holden VS Commodore Wayne Gardner Racing
1997 All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship: GT500 20th Toyota Supra Power Craft
1998 All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship: GT500 17th Toyota Supra Team Power Craft
1999 All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship: GT500 12th Toyota Supra Toyota Team LeMans
1999 Shell Championship Series 40th Holden VT Commodore Wayne Gardner Racing
2000 All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship: GT500 9th Toyota Supra Toyota Team LeMans
2001 All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship: GT500 6th Toyota Supra Toyota Team TOM'S
2001 Shell Championship Series 53rd Ford AU Falcon Larkham Motor Sport
2002 All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship: GT500 7th Toyota Supra Toyota Team TOM'S
2002 V8 Supercar Championship Series 49th Ford AU Falcon Stone Brothers Racing

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Eddie Lawson
500 cc Motorcycle World Champion
1987
Succeeded by
Eddie Lawson