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Final round title showdowns: 1949 - 2005.

1980 – For the third successive year a Suzuki rider was challenging Kenny Roberts for the world title, only this time it was fellow American Randy Mamola and the circuit was once again the old Nurburgring circuit, the final time that this famous track was used for grand prix racing. Even though Mamola led the race in the early stages, Roberts always looked the favourite to take the title having only to finish in eighth place or higher. Mamola's challenge evaporated mid-way through the race when he was slowed with mechanical problems.

1981 – For the second successive year Randy Mamola arrived at the final race of the year, this time held at the Swedish Anderstorp circuit, with a chance of the title. Marco Lucchinelli was the rider leading the classification and he needed to finish fifth or higher to take the championship if Mamola won the race. The race was held in mixed conditions with light rain falling and after leading early in the race Mamola fell steadily back through the pack and out of the points while Lucchinelli cruised home to a safe ninth to take the title.

1983 – Freddie Spencer had a five point advantage on Kenny Roberts when they arrived at the final race of 1983 after a controversial last lap passing move at the penultimate race of the year in Sweden had given Spencer the victory. Throughout the race, held at the Imola circuit, Roberts attempted to slow Spencer down to allow his team-mate Lawson to catch up and possibly finish ahead of Spencer. At the final flag Spencer managed to take the second place needed to clinch the title and become the first Honda rider to win the 500cc crown.

1989 – Once again two American riders arrived at the final race of the year with a chance of the title, this time it was Eddie Lawson and Wayne Rainey. Rainey had led the championship classification from the second race of the year until three races from the end of the year in Sweden when he made a rare mistake and crashed, giving Lawson a comfortable cushion going to the final event held at the Goiania circuit in Brazil. Lawson finished second in the race to clinch the title after a tremendous battle with Rainey and fellow American Kevin Schwantz who won the race.

1992 – After running away with the championship in the early stages Mick Doohan suffered severe injuries in a crash during practice at round eight at Assen by which time he had a 65 point lead over Wayne Rainey. By the time Doohan returned to compete at the final two races of the year, still far from fully fit, Rainey had reduced the lead considerably such that when they arrived at Kyalami in South Africa for the final race of the year Doohan had just a two point advantage. In spite of Doohan's heroic efforts to finish in sixth, Rainey took a safe third place to win the title by four points. This was the only occasion that a rider arriving at the final race behind in the championship standings has gone on to take the title.

1993 – Strictly speaking this is the last time that the title has gone down to the last race of the year with Kevin Schwantz leading Wayne Rainey by 18 points. However in reality Schwantz had won the title two races previously at the Italian GP when Wayne Rainey suffered an accident that ended his racing career.


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
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Former rivals Kenny Roberts Sr. [left] and Randy Mamola at Suzuka.
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