Endurance racing

late 80's RVF750 handbuilt endurance racer

Oki Honda RVF750

The RVF750 was Honda's mid-1980's endurance racer, which swept the board. The Suzuka 8-hour, Le Mans and Bol D'Or races were invariably led, and won, by these technological marvels. The bike shown above won the Le Mans five consecutive times. These exotic and frighteningly expensive bikes, were generally built to win one race - the Suzuka 8-hour. At the time this was the most prestigious race in the calendar, and winning at Suzuka was more important than the Grand Prix title. The RC30 production bike, which debuted in 1988, was modelled on the RVF, and proved to be equally adept in the hands of the many privateers who competed in these gruelling events. The machines and riders are discussed in Julian Ryder's book "Honda's V-force".

Until 2000 the most successful endurance bikes were mostly based on the RC45. The 1998 Suzuki 8-hour was Honda's 50th anniversary, and they celebrated it in style with a Honda 1-2-3: 1st Ukawa & Itoh, 2nd Barros & Gibernau, 3rd Edwards & Okada.

More recently Honda took the brand new VTR1000 SP-1 (RC51) to victory in the 2000 Le Mans 24hr race, in the hands of Costes, Charpentier and Gimbert. In 2001 Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards won from fellow Honda riders Alex Barros and Tady Okada. Six of the top 10 bikes home were Honda VTR1000s.

The 1988 Bol D'Or (at Paul Ricard in the South of France) was very wet!

Bol D'Or 1999, photo by Mac McDiarmid

The 1999 Bol D'Or. The caption says
"One bike, three riders, 45 minutes on, 90 minutes off, fully cranked and banked for 24 hours".
They must be stark raving mad.

External links
www.race24.com - Live coverage & results from World Championship rounds
Phase One - 2000 Endurance World Champions
MCNews - Aussie bike news site
Japanese Championship results in Japanes and English. Includes all Suzuka 8-hour results back to 1978.