usa Vs uk =500

Kevin chats with Mike Baldwin as they wait to go out for practice at Assen. In the background is Masura Mizutani, Suzuki's key man in the Japanese National 500 Championship.

First 500 Ride. Though the Race of the Year at Mallory Park in 1986 was Kevin's first public outing on a 500 he recalls throwing his leg over a square four before that. "The first 500 I ever rode was at Ryuyo, Suzuki's test track. It must have been '85 and I was testing for the 8 hour. Mizutani was nice enough to let me have a ride on his bike. I don't think that at that stage of my career most guys would have bothered. He et me do three or four laps. I just remember it was all wheelies and speed, Ryuyo is fast."

Martin Brookman was already a Grand Prix mechanic of great experience and ability when Suzuki asked him to work on Kevin's bikes for Assen and Spa in '86. Here he is passing on a bit of that experience to Kevin who is wearing the red cap. Leaning on the back of the bike is chief mechanic Keith Reed. In the foreground is Martin Ogbourne, he was the race engineer for the Skoal Bandit Suzuki team and his rider Paul Lewis Stands in the background. Brookman was impressed with the way Schwantz handled his first Grand Prix. "Considering what he was riding and what he was doing, I thought he was the business, straight away. The way he was sliding and drifting the bike around."

"On the Grand Prix bike, we didn't know but they'd has trouble with carburetor sticking, the first time they stuck was in the race and he was off.

At Spa for his second Grand Prix Kevin found during practice that the outdated Suzuki was well underpowered on the long climb away from Eau Rouge. He thought that fate had played into his hands when it rained for race day but as his mechanic at the time, Martin Brookman recalled, a wrong choice of tyre at the time ruined their hopes. "He asked for the same tyres as he has at the match races and he was told that that was what he had. They were all the same number but they were radials not cross-plys."

"He crashed on the sighting lap, missed the warm up lap. It knocked the carburetors off and filled the reed valve blocks up with stones. I scraped it out with my finger, wired the faring back up, we replaced the footrest. He kept blipping the throttle to try and free it up and away it went. He rode with a hanging up throttle all race, it was hanging up, not closing, on number one. The crash had stretched the cable."

Wheelying away from La Source hairpin and the famous cafe during practice for his Grand Prix at Spa. The same corner would cause him a great deal of trouble when it rained on race day.

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