Australia's five-times 500cc motorcycle world champion Mick Doohan today drove a V8 Supercar for the first time, but his time behind the wheel was shortened by a clutch problem.
The 36-year-old was forced to stop driving after a handful of laps in the 600-horsepower VX Holden Commodore that Queenslander Paul Morris will race in V8 Supercar support events at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne from March 1-3.
"My biggest problem was trying to backshift and stop it, and my feet aren't that good because of my injuries from bike racing," he said.
However, Doohan said he thoroughly enjoyed his brief drive, held during a sponsorship launch at the Holden Performance Driving Centre on the Gold Coast to announce Morris' team would be backed by Queensland-based Sirromet Wines in the 13-round V8 Supercar championship for Holdens and Ford.
"These cars are fun to drive," said Doohan. "The first thing you notice is they've got plenty of power and you're pulling up a lot of weight under brakes, even though I wasn't pushing too hard."
Doohan's previous racing car driving experiences were in a Williams Formula One car at Catalunya in Spain in 1998, and in a Mercedes-Benz CLK55 AMG in the 2001 Targa Tasmania tarmac rally.
"I'm interested in all types of motorsport, so it's good to get the chance to get in these cars and see what they do and get a feeling for it," he said.
Doohan said his ongoing role as General Manager of Racing with Honda Racing Corporation in the Moto GP series would rule out a fulltime switch to competing on four wheels.
"I'm still heavily involved in grand prix bikes with Honda, and I live in Monaco most of the year so I couldn't do a full season of V8s or any other type of car racing," he said.
"At the same time you can never say 'never' to doing the odd race here or there sometime in the future and I'm always keeping an open mind about it."
"The main thing would be finding time between my other commitments, and making sure I had enough time in the car to prepare properly with testing and so forth."
Doohan, who retired in 1999 because of injuries with 54 Moto GP victories to his credit, impressed Morris during his brief drive.
"Mick is a racer and you could see him getting more and more on top of it with every corner," said Morris.
"He had a good feel for what was going on, and what he was doing, and I'm sure that with more time in the car he would be very quick."
Morris, who won his first V8 Supercar round at Calder in 2001, will have a new in-house built VX Commodore for the championship opener in Adelaide from March 15-17.