This week in...
The Queen Mum dies, two-stroke GP racing sort of dies and the World Cup kicks off in Japan
2002: A new era dawns
On March 30, 2002, the Queen Mother died, aged 101. The funeral was nine days later as the UK lost one of its most-loved figures. Meanwhile, a new era was dawning in GPS with 990 four-strokes introduced alongside existing twostrokes. The smokers outnumbered the bigger bikes 12 to nine at Suzuka for the first race of the season, but the writing was on the wall.
There was also speculation over Ducati’s 998 replacement. The 916 stunned the world when it was unleashed in 1994, but it was time for Ducati to move on.
Penned by Pierre Terblanche, the 999 was revealed at the end of 2002 and while its styling was controversial, it did go on to win three World Superbike titles – with Neil Hodgson (2003), James Toseland (2004) and Troy Bayliss (2006).
‘When I first tested the RCV, I opened the throttle 10% and there was too much power – I was losing grip’ VALENTINO ROSSI