usa Vs uk =500

Suzuki Team Manager Garry Taylor remembers his first impression of Kevin. "Physically Kevin did not look imposing. He didn't look like the sort of guy who could deliver performances he was obviously capable of on the track. He looked far too mellow, but I think he was just shy. But the first time I saw him on the track he was a revelation."

"It was just about the only thing that really discouraged me about trying to ride the 500. Actually at Assen I couldn't have done too bad because I was fifth or sixth into the first turn coming off the third row." Kevin had qualified twelfth almost four seconds off Wayne Gardner's pole time but Assen is one of the longest Grand Prix circuits. At the time it was 7.69 km and has since been shortened to 6.05. He was only three tenths slower than Dave Petersen, riding the Gallina Suzuki and quicker than Paul Lewis. The square fours were long in the tooth.


"I ended up crashing in the race, at least I ran off the track at the end of the back straight away. It was the old track with a real tight right hander there. I just ran out of road, ran onto the grass, the front tucked under. I picked the bike up got it running again and back on the track. I made another twelve or so before it ingested all the dirt it had picked up in the fairing."

"I was also riding in the TT Formula One race that weekend on an RG500 street bike with special pipes and carbs. I finished second behind Joey Dunlop and in front of Suzuki's sole hope for the championship, Paul Iddon, who I passed on the last lap. He was so mad about that, it was for the Formula One World Championship and I just cleaned him out of three or four points, whatever it was."

The Formula One bike at Assen. A different machine again yet it had two wheels and that was all that mattered. The factory's F1 effort was a dedicated four stroke program and yet Kevin embarrassed factory Suzuki rider Paul Iddon by passing him in the closing stages to take second behind Joey Dunlop on the works Honda. Simon Tonge was working for Paul Lewis on the Grand Prix 500 at the time but was obviously impressed with Kevin's performance on what was hardly a factory special. "It was hysterical really considering that it was just a road bike, giving away 25 mph top speed complete with kick starter and everything. He passed Iddon at the end of the back straight on the brakes."

"I guess he was still in the running for the championship at that stage but I didn't think about it that way during the race. The biggest reason I wanted to beat him was that during the week he had sat around and given everybody grief about riding horrible little two strokes. I told him, look I ride Superbikes in the US, I like riding four strokes. Basically it was more to do with the fact that I was getting to ride the 500 in the Grand Prix and he wasn't."

"Anyway it was nice to be able to catch and pass him like that. Their other four stroke rider was Neil Robinson and the chain broke on his bike so we were able to give the four stroke crew some major grief that evening."

"It was a fun weekend even though we wrecked plenty of fairings. Masaru Mizutani and Paul Lewis were also riding the 500s in the Grand Prix. Lewis fell off just behind me at the same corner along with Yatsushiro on the Honda, all three of us were picking the bikes up the same lap. The very next lap Lawson did it so I guess he didn't remember the warning he had given me earlier in the week."

"I don't remember how many times Mizutani crashed in practice but I remember he had one big one. Coming back towards the Strubben looping left hand hairpin under the bridge through that fast right, he dropped it in a big way" Mizutani was Suzuki's number one rider in their domestic championship and flew to Assen fresh from beating GP regular Shunji Yatsushiro in a national event. He fell three times in four sessions but was the only factory Suzuki to finish the race, crossing the line fourteenth.

"I was real impressed with GP racing, all the trucks, transporters, the sponsors involved. It was then in the back of my mind that 500 racing was where I wanted to get to at some stage in my career though I didn't know how I was going to get a full term ride."

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