Wayne Gardner entered the sport when the 500cc factory bikes were not the smoothest to ride, and his competition included legends such as Randy Mamola, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey, Mick Doohan, Kevin Schwantz and Freddie Spencer. All this only emphasizes the significance of his achievements which include 52 podium positions, 18 wins and the 1987 premier class title.
In 1983, Gardner made his 500cc debut and stayed with Honda for the eight seasons that he participated in the World Championship for. He earned a breakthrough owing to his results for Honda Britain. Gardner’s first full-time campaign happened in 1985, and he went on to win his first Grand Prix in 1986. He battled Mamola and Lawson successfully, on his NSR500, for the 1987 World Championship title.
The 1988 version of the NSR was too fast and Gardner was seen visibly struggling to control the powerful machine. Once again Gardner was up against Lawson for the championship title, but this time Lawson bagged the prize. This period was followed by a spate of injuries consisting of everything from broken legs, ribs to feet. This reflected in his riding from 1989 till 1991.
But even during this period, Gardner managed some spectacular victories at the first Philip Island GP in 1989, and an even more stunning repeat in 1990. Both these races are believed to have been some of the best in the premier class.
In 1992, Wayne Gardner retired from the World Championship, after an emotional win at the British Grand Prix. Being the first Australian 500cc World Champion, motorcycle racing became a much more widely accepted sport in Australia.