At the 2001 Portuguese Motorcycle Grand Prix, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone was taken for a ride on the 500cc Yamaha two-seater behind former GP winner Randy Mamola.

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Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone had two of the best laps of his life at Estoril, riding the Marlboro Yamaha Team twin-seater behind former GP winner Randy Mamola!

Making a surprise visit to the Portuguese Grand Prix, Ecclestone bravely accepted the offer of a ride, along with his wife Slavica.

"I started my career in motorcycling but I'm glad I didn't finish it [today] on bikes," joked Ecclestone after his rodeo ride around one of the bumpiest, most tortuous tracks in GP racing.

(pic: Gold&Goose).

"I love motorcycling, it's a good show, with good people, and the ride was really super, a great experience," Bernie added. "I felt completely safe with Randy, but considering the lean angles it's surprising how the bike stays on the road.

"I've not been in the latest Formula One two-seaters, but I imagine the bike is more exhilarating because you're looking at the road a few centimetres from your face."

Mamola, who has been chauffeuring celebrities on the 285kmh/180mph twin-seater since last year, acknowledged some nerves before his outing.

"Bernie is the most expensive cargo I've ever carried, so I had to look after him," joked the American, 13 times a 500 GP winner. "But he was a fantastic passenger, fantastic."

(pic: Gold&Goose).

Ecclestone, who started his motorsport career riding a Matchless around Brand Hatch during the Fifties, took his turn after his wife, who rode two gentler laps with Mamola.

"I was a bit frightened but Randy was very kind, he kept signalling to make sure I was okay," said Mrs Ecclestone. "The corners were impressive. I'm sure Randy went faster with my husband and I was a little worried about him."

Slavica had good reason to be concerned, despite all Mamola's experience: Unlike the F1 two seaters, the Yamaha passengers (like any motorcycle rider) have just 3mm of leather between themselves and the road - instead of the Carbon Fibre protection offered with the F1 experience, making any accident on the YZR much more dangerous.

An example of this is that while a 30 mph crash in the F1 car would be unpleasant - on the Yamaha the effect would be the same as leaping out of a road car at that speed and landing on the tarmac - a completely different story.

Now imagine doing the same at 180mph...

(pic: Gold&Goose).

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