14 years ago we saw sports­bike ma­nia reach fever pitch and a huge ar­ray of new bikes at bar­gain prices… ‘Steve His­lop was BSB ti­tle favourite, but he’d been sacked by his team July and was dead by Au­gust’

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

Fe­bru­ary 2003 was all about build-up and prepa­ra­tion. While Al­lied forces were mass­ing in the Gulf for the ‘Shock and Awe’ cam­paign against Sad­dam Hus­sein’s Iraq, the rac­ing world had its own arms race.

With two-strokes now more or less ban­ished from the GP cham­pi­onship, Rep­sol Honda re­vealed the sec­ond-gen ver­sion of its five­cylin­der, four-stroke RC211V. Aimed at help­ing Valentino Rossi de­fend his Mo­togp ti­tle, Colin Ed­wards’ lap time on his F1-in­spired Aprilia RS3 in Va­len­cia test­ing would have se­cured him pole the pre­vi­ous sea­son. Their sea­sons were to be very dif­fer­ent. Rossi se­cured his fi­nal ti­tle for Honda while Colin’s sea­son ended in dis­ap­point­ment, punc­tu­ated with huge, painful high­sides thanks to the bike’s lightswitch power de­liv­ery.

In Bri­tish Su­per­bikes, Vir­gin Yamaha were pre­par­ing a re­vised R1 with more power and re­fined elec­tron­ics and sus­pen­sion. The 2002 cham­pion Steve His­lop was ti­tle favourite, but by July he’d been sacked by the team and by Au­gust he was dead – killed when his he­li­copter col­lided with a Scot­tish hill­side. It was the loss of a mo­tor­cy­cling ge­nius.

BARRY SHEENE STRUG­GLES WITH CANCER TREAT­MENT Fe­bru­ary 12 marked the last time MCN 500GP spoke to Barry Sheene. The dou­ble a few champ was di­ag­nosed with cancer months ear­lier, but had opted for non­in­va­sive treat­ments; his lat­est course Sheene had­nõt been suc­cess­ful. Op­ti­mistic 10 days, said: ÒIF they said IÕD got 10 years or He died I would­nõt ap­proach it dif­fer­ently.ó on March 10. NEW ZX-10R – WE GET IT RIGHT new ZX-10R sub­stance Ð we pre­dict Kawasak­iõs Age-old proof that MCN scoops have all-new We said the new bike would have an a good eight months be­fore itõs un­veiled. y GP project styling that aped their con­tem­po­rar 160bhp in-line four (true), frame and twin pipes ram-air scoop (true) and un­der­seat, (true), twin lights sep­a­rated by a huge slap-happy, What we did­nõt pre­dict was what a (we had to wait for 2006 for those). now... 10R would be. Itõs still men­tal even wheelie-tas­tic bike the orig­i­nal ZX- NOR­TON’S NEME­SIS RIDES AGAIN… SORT OF The late Õ90s and early noughties were tor­rid times for the Nor­ton brand, with the name dragged through the mud of failed projects and ownership dis­putes. This in­car­na­tion was Amer­i­canowned, their cho­sen bike was a two-litre V-twin cruiser, bizarrely called the Neme­sis Ð just like the fan­tasy 1500cc V8 Nor­ton promised in the late 1990s. It was a shower.

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