World GP Bike Legends served up a stirring and spectacular show at the recent Silverstone Classic (28-30 July) when a star-studded line-up of two-wheel heroes took to the famous GP track riding a combination of phenomenal 500cc two-strokes from the sport’s glory days plus new Yamaha YZF-R1s painted in evocative period liveries. What’s more, these exclusive retro-liveried R1s are now being offered for public sale.
Adding to the amazing occasion, a team of Bike Legends also contested – and won – the event’s high-profile Celebrity Challenge Trophy race, a special showdown featuring an impressive grid of famous faces from sport, music, TV and showbiz all racing equally-matched Austin A30s and A35s.
“It was an awesome weekend on all fronts,” enthused WGPBL ambassador Wayne Gardner. “The Silverstone Classic is now one of the world’s greatest festivals and the presence of World GP Bike Legends certainly adds to the extraordinary show. With so many enthusiasts, it was the perfect event for us to debut our exciting new initiative with Yamaha.”
Gardner, the 1987 500cc MotoGP title winner, was joined at the special Silverstone showcase by fellow World Champions Freddie Spencer and Phil Read MBE plus five other renowned riders from yesteryear: British champions Niall Mackenzie and Steve Parrish, TT racer Maria Costello MBE plus GP aces Didier de Radiguès and Niggi Schmassmann.
This year’s outstanding WGPBL line-up also starred two sons of famous fathers – Gardner’s son Remy, currently competing in Moto2, and Freddie Sheene whose late father Barry Sheene remains one of the most loved characters in global motor sport.
While Parrish, Costello, de Radiguès, Schmassmann and Gardner junior were all aboard fiery two-strokes, the five other legends debuted a quintet of dazzling Yamahas, all finished in very special racing colours.
Wayne Gardner’s YZF-R1s featured a unique World GP Bike Legends design, however those ridden by Spencer, Read, Mackenzie and Sheene all boasted evocative designs harking back to respective heydays.
Spencer’s design was based on the Yamaha he raced back in 1980, Read’s recalled his championship winning Yamaha of 1971 and Mackenzie’s livery honoured the Sanauto-Yamaha on which he contested 1992 500cc World Championship. Even more iconically, perhaps, Freddie Sheene’s much-admired R1 revived the revered Akai livery from the Yamaha his late father raced in 1981.
All five riders autographed their respective R1s which are now on sale via the www.legendsgpbikes.com website. Each one comes with a Certificate of Authenticity (also signed by the rider) and a dedicated plaque showing its position in the very limited WGPBL series.
The new collection of R1s, resplendent in their alluring retro colours, attracted massive attention at the Silverstone Classic both when on display in the National Paddock and when performing high-speed demonstration laps on the circuit.
Though dramatic these on-track demos weren’t competitive, four of the WGPBL riders – Gardner, Spencer, Parrish and Costello – did join forces to contest the event’s standout Celebrity Challenge Trophy motor race on Saturday evening.
Their impressive results, when added to those scored in Sunday’s follow-up showdown for the cars’ owners, ensured the Bike Legends team came out on top, in the process helping to raise more than £10,000 for Prostate Cancer UK, the event’s official charity.