JA­PAN’S SEX­I­EST RACE REPLICAS

Why we’ve WSB to thank for the RC30, OW01, RC45 and more…

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Front Page - By Phil West MCN CON­TRIB­U­TOR @MCNNEWS mo­tor­cy­cle­news

If not for the cre­ation of the World Su­per­bikes se­ries in 1988, dream ma­chines such as the Yamaha R7, Kawasaki ZX-RR and, most fa­mously, Honda’s RC30 would never have been made. WSB is a pro­duc­tion-based for­mula, a race se­ries for ma­chines you or I can buy – and when a ‘prod­die’ se­ries is as glob­ally im­por­tant as WSB was, man­u­fac­tur­ers can go to ex­or­bi­tant lengths to win races (and thus sell more bikes).

The ini­tial rules dic­tated a 750cc/four or 1000cc/twin with a pro­duc­tion vol­ume of at least 500 (from man­u­fac­tur­ers pro­duc­ing over 100,000 bikes per year, i.e. the Ja­panese) or just 200 (and later 150) from those build­ing un­der 50,000/ year, such as Bi­mota and Du­cati.

That rul­ing di­rectly lead to count­less ho­molo­ga­tion spe­cial Du­catis over the years, but also a raft of the most ex­otic Ja­panese ma­chin­ery ever pro­duced. Honda’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion, the RC30, won the first two cham­pi­onships; Yamaha’s, the OW01, came sec­ond in 1990 (but won in Bri­tain and the US); Kawasaki’s, the ZXR750R, placed third with Rob Phillis in ’91 and ’92 be­fore dom­i­nat­ing with Scott Rus­sell in ’93. The list goes on…

The hey­day of these ma­chines was the late ’80s and early ’90s, be­fore tail­ing off due to the dom­i­nance of Du­cati’s 916 af­ter 1994 (the con­spic­u­ous ex­cep­tion be­gin Honda’s 916-alike SP-1 V-twin of 2000).

A va­ri­ety of rule changes over the years have seen the for­tunes of the ho­molo­ga­tion spe­cials rise and fall, but in 2016 the lat­est change cut the pro­duc­tion re­quire­ment to just 500 ma­chines – and even those only needed to be built by the end of the sec­ond year of pro­duc­tion.

No won­der, then, that the lead­ing Ja­panese man­u­fac­tur­ers are once again pro­duc­ing high-priced, ex­otic bikes such as the ZX-10RR and Fire­blade SP2 – even if they don’t have the same al­lure of those first, bril­liant, 750s…

Style, speed, bal­ance and sub­lime qual­ity – we defy you not to want an RC30

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