Big Kenny at Suzuka
8-hour endurance race celebrated its 40th anniversary in style this July, by reuniting King Kenny Roberts with his 1985 Tech 21 sponsored factory Yamaha YZF750. Roberts, who retired from GP racing at the end of the 1983 season, made his Suzuka comeback in ’85 with a win in his sights; “I wouldn’t have bothered if I didn’t think I could win,” he said at the time.
KR’S prediction of a win looked to be on, too. After setting pole, he and co-pilot Tadahiko Taira had victory in the bag until on lap 181, just 28 minutes from the chequered flag, their YZF lunched its motor.
But that was 32 years ago. The pairing of KR and Taira were held in such high regard by Yamaha top brass they were referred to as “The Golden Mixture”, and having Roberts lap the famous Japanese circuit aboard the lilac factory four this July as part of the track’s 40th proved the perfect backdrop to the main event that was won by Yamaha for the third time on the bounce – brit WSB ace Alex Lowes taking the win alongside Michael Van Der Mark and Katsuyuki Nakasuga.
King Ken ready to rumble Back in 1985 on factory YZF750