MEET THE OWNER
Steve Wheatman is no stranger to exotic Grand Prix machines, but of all the bikes in his mouth-watering collection, the story behind the RGV500R’s purchase is something else.
“It was 9am on New Year’s Day”, explained Steve. “The phone rang and I heard this guy putting on a funny accent, trying to flog me a bike. It had to be a wind-up, but the more the guy chatted the more I realised it wasn’t one of my mates still drunk from the night before. It turned out to be Kenny Roberts senior, calling from the States and offering to sell me his son’s GP-winning ’99 RGV. What could I say, other than how much did he want for it? He told me the sobering figure, but it was never going to be cheap. I said okay, sorted the finances and before I knew it I’d added something pretty exceptional into my collection.
“It was absolutely immaculate. At the end of the 1999 season the Suzuki technicians completely stripped and overhauled the RGV before presenting it to Kenny junior as a gift. From that day forward it had never turned a wheel, until I got hold of it. I’m not one for parking bikes up out of sight and leaving them to collect dust. It was a privilege to become the owner of the Suzuki, and equally as special to actually ride it. We don’t use these bikes all the time, because you can soon wear them out, but I’m so glad that it actually gets used on occasion. People who ride it always say that they love it. It’s totally original, and it’s probably the most technically brilliant bike in my collection. It’s something else.”