When Yamaha’s press release came out on the Thursday before the Austrian GP announcing that they had suspended Maverick Viñales, because of what they described as "an unexplained irregular operation of the motorcycle" by Viñales during the previous weekend‘s Styria MotoGP race, another rider’s name came up in every conversation: John Kocinski. Memories of the American rider's behavior in Assen, 1993, after the 250 cc race, where he finished third – and upset.
“A lot has been said in the MotoGP media this week, comparing Maverick Viñales’ incident to the 1993 250cc Suzuki incident. For the record in Assen 1993, on the cool down lap, the countershaft sprocket fell off which made the chain come off. The engine was immediately tuned off by the kill switch, hoping the rear wheel wouldn't lock up. Got the bike off to the side of the track and parked it. That is what really happened! #Facts #KocinskiFans #MotoGP”
Well, as they say, everyone who is part of a story has a different version of it, their own perspective. Being at the Red Bull Ring, I took the opportunity to get the perspective of someone else who was there at the time: Hervé Poncharal, Kocinski’s team manager in 1993.
Q: So Hervé, you were the team manager of John Kocinski in 1993.
[Poncharal starts laughing hard…]
How do you remember what he did after the flag in Assen?
HP: Yeah, you know it’s a long story and an old story. I think it was a shame because John was so fast on that weekend on that season, but he just had a poor start and in the first ten laps or so, he was very, very, very slow, and suddenly it was like a bee stung him and he started to be do fastest lap, fastest lap, fastest at every lap. And he's catching everyone, up to second position. I think Loris Capirossi was far too far in front, but he was a lot quicker, he could have won that race.
He passed Harada I think in the last lap, and for some reason in the last lap he lost that second position, because he saw another big gap on Harada, and Harada was closer than he expected and Harada passed him and he ended up third, which is still a good result. But he was really ****ed off and instead of coming back and go on the podium, we didn’t know on the spot, but he went back on the other side of the circuit and just put the bike in neutral and kept the gas full open until the conrod went through the crankcase, and the motor was exploded.
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A previous version of this story stated that the Facebook post quoted above was by John Kocinski. This was incorrect, and has been edited to reflect that the post was on a fan page, claiming to be from Kocinski.