1989 Belgian motorcycle Grand Prix

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Belgium  1989 Belgian Grand Prix
Race details
Race 10 of 15 races in the
1989 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season
Circuit Spa.png
Date 2 July 1989
Location Spa-Francorchamps
  • Permanent racing facility
  • 7.004 km (4.352 mi)
500 cc
Pole position
Rider United States Kevin Schwantz
Time 2:24.650
Fastest lap
Rider United States Kevin Schwantz
Time 2:26.110
First United States Eddie Lawson
Second United States Kevin Schwantz
Third United States Wayne Rainey
250 cc
Pole position
Rider Belgium Didier de Radiguès
Time 2:31.790
Fastest lap
Rider Spain Sito Pons
Time 2:33.530
First Switzerland Jacques Cornu
Second Spain Sito Pons
Third Spain Carlos Cardús
125 cc
Pole position
Rider Italy Ezio Gianola
Time 2:43.470
Fastest lap
Rider Netherlands Hans Spaan
Time 2:55.740
First Netherlands Hans Spaan
Second Italy Ezio Gianola
Third Japan Hisashi Unemoto

The 1989 Belgian motorcycle Grand Prix was the tenth round of the 1989 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season. It took place on the weekend of 30 June-2 July 1989 at Spa-Francorchamps.

500 cc race report[edit]

Kevin Schwantz makes it six poles in a row, and John Kocinski makes his 500 debut.

The first turns go to Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey and Schwantz. Christian Sarron watches from fourth as the three ahead scrape fairings. The quartet get well clear, but wet patches begin to appear on the track.

Rainey and Schwantz raise their hands to stop the race, but ahead of them Lawson and Sarron continue at race pace. Lawson soon becomes aware of the water and raises his hand too, but Sarron, perhaps under the mistaken impression that he’s dropping the other three, seems too enthusiastic to stop and loses the front-end on a fast left. The riders pit with 5 laps raced.

It looks like the restart on aggregate time will be dry, and again Lawson, Rainey and Schwantz get away at the front, though the sky darkens. Again, the leaders raise their hands after the 9th lap, but before everyone can pit, Mick Doohan and Kocinski collide, sliding without serious injury.

The podium of the second leg is Lawson, Schwantz and Rainey, but the race organizers decide to run a third leg in the wet.

The third race sees Schwantz get away from Rainey, while Lawson gets into a tussle with Kocinski for third. On the last lap, with a comfortable lead, Schwantz crashes out on the brakes, and Rainey wheelies in for the lead, followed by Kocinski and Lawson. However, the results of the third race are later nullified, giving Lawson the win and closing the gap to Rainey. The points are later halved when a rule is discovered that only one restart is allowed.

The FIM had decided by 1989 that there could be no more than two starts and that after the second race, started on slicks, was stopped due to rain, the race would be deemed complete.

In an interesting footnote, the 1989 Belgium Grand Prix in Spa Francorchamps, scheduled for 18 laps and 73.3 miles, was entered in the books as a “complete” eight-lap, 34.5-mile sprint race victory for Eddie Lawson. But if you look at the old magazines you’ll see Kevin Schwantz celebrating the victory atop a wet podium and John Kocinski standing third in his 500 debut.

In fact, the race director, fearing a riot if he sent the fans home after only seeing two aborted starts and eight recorded laps, decided to appease the crowd by sending the riders out again even though it was clearly against the rules. Word was that the “promoter” ordered the race director to do this. The “promoter” was Bernie Ecclestone. Eventually half points were awarded and the FIM realized that something had to be done.

Thus the “wet race” and “dry race” rules were instituted. Under these rules if a race starts in the dry with riders on slicks and rain begins to the extent that the race director believes that there is insufficient traction for slick tires, he orders red flags. If three or more laps have been run, the original race distance, minus the number of laps run and minus one additional lap, is established for the second leg. However, regardless of the conditions at the start of the second part, the race is declared “wet,’ meaning that it would not be stopped simply because it begins to rain. Riders go out for part two with the understanding that, if they opted for the wrong tires, they either have to wobble around like Steve Manship at Silverstone or come in for a change. The final results are then to be based on aggregate times.

This worked from the late eighties until 2003 when Dorna, protecting their TV coverage against long delays, overrode strong MSMA (Motorcycle Sport Manufacturers Association) objections and managed to introduce the first of three variants of “flag to flag” racing -- races which would not be stopped and restarted due to rain.[1]

500 cc classification[edit]

Pos Rider Manufacturer Time/Retired Points
1 United States Eddie Lawson Honda 19:46.260 20
2 United States Kevin Schwantz Suzuki +0.920 17
3 United States Wayne Rainey Yamaha +1.520 15
4 France Christian Sarron Yamaha +11.430 13
5 United States John Kocinski Yamaha +15.220 11
6 Italy Pierfrancesco Chili Honda +18.870 10
7 Australia Kevin Magee Yamaha +20.720 9
8 Australia Mick Doohan Honda +27.230 8
9 United States Freddie Spencer Yamaha +27.850 7
10 United Kingdom Niall Mackenzie Yamaha +32.840 6
11 United Kingdom Rob McElnea Honda +32.970 5
12 Switzerland Marco Gentile Fior +1:25.460 4
13 Netherlands Cees Doorakkers Honda +1:34.460 3
14 Republic of Ireland Eddie Laycock Honda +1:37.060 2
15 United Kingdom Damon Buckmaster Honda +1:37.590 1
16 Spain Francisco Gonzales Honda +1 Lap
17 United Kingdom Mark Phillips Suzuki +1 Lap
18 Switzerland Nicholas Schmassman Honda +1 Lap
19 West Germany Hans Klingebiel Suzuki +1 Lap
Ret Czechoslovakia Pavel Dekanek Honda Retirement
Ret Italy Marco Papa Paton Retirement
Ret Australia Wayne Gardner Honda Retirement
Ret Austria Josef Doppler Honda Retirement
Ret United Kingdom Ron Haslam Suzuki Retirement
Ret Switzerland Bruno Kneubuhler Honda Retirement
Ret Italy Alessandro Valesi Yamaha Retirement
Ret United States Randy Mamola Cagiva Retirement


  1. ^ Noyes, Dennis: Time to Fix 'Flag-to-Flag' Pit Stops Before Luck Runs Out SpeedTV.com 20 September 2006.

Previous race:
1989 Dutch TT
FIM Grand Prix World Championship
1989 season
Next race:
1989 French Grand Prix
Previous race:
1988 Belgian Grand Prix
Belgian Grand Prix Next race:
1990 Belgian Grand Prix