The beating heart of the bike originally came from a Yamaha RD500LC. Mark originally bought it for a straight restoration until the engine blew whilst he was chasing a more modern sports bike. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as not only did he change his plans, but the poorly motor was treated to a trip to Stan Stephens for much needed surgery.
Meanwhile the Yamaha RD500LC chassis was never seen again. Instead, Mark bought a ‘modified’ Yamaha TZR250 3MA frame which had already been designed to take the bigger V4 RD engine. It’s not an unusual modification to improve on what may be the world’s most unreliable two-stroke motor, as the reverse cylinder design became known as the ‘reverse seizure’ due to the quirky design.
Despite the historic ambition, some of the parts do come from modern bikes. The chassis needed wheels, suspension and brakes, and most were donated from Yamaha’s R1 and R6. Despite the fact race and road bikes have all gone the four-stroke root, it’s somehow nice that they were able to provide parts for this glorious stinkwheel two-stroke.
Bodywork came via an internet forum, and Mark cut up his new YZR fairing to get it exactly how he wanted it. Keen observers might spot that the fuel tank is actually a Honda item from an NC30. Meanwhile the lovely pipework had to be cut to fit.
Mark spent hours losing the Yamaha R1 top yoke nut and creating a countersunk fastener. The dash actually comes from one of his old go-karts!
Finally it was time for paint and graphics. And yet again it required some ingenuity. Nobody apparently produced a replica sticker set for the Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3 YZR, so Mark picked up a Tamiya model kit and increased everything in size to fit the full-size replica.
Number 56 was raced by Shinya Nakano, who rode the Tech 3 Yamaha YZR500 in the 2001 series and until the final 3 rounds of the 2002 season when he moved to the four-stroke YZR-M1. He finished 5th in the Grand Prix championship in 2001, with a podium in Germany, and a number of 4th places. He later rode for d’Antin Yamaha, the factory Kawasaki team and both Konica Minolta and Gresini Honda, before switching to World Superbikes with Aprilia in 2009. That was his final season before he decided to retire from racing due to injury problems.
This Yamaha YZR500 replica is a triumph of hard work and ingenuity – and the fact it’s now used in anger makes it even better.