usa Vs uk=500

"I could have used whichever I wanted but had gone for the Michelins only to have Niall tell me how great the Dunlops were and he qualified ahead of us, he was on the front row. That was one of the earliest times that I realised that if you stay with something and work with it you can make it better instead of swapping around all the time trying to pick whatever's good that weekend."

"That is kind of what I have done since then through my career, if you are going to make a change then make it but then stick with it. That has been true in a few areas but especially where my relationship with Suzuki is concerned."

La Source of quite a few problems for Kevin at Spa was the exit from the famous hairpin. Here he is not crashing during the race having slid off on the sighting lap. The bike that Kevin rode both at Assen and Spa had a carbon composite frame. This method of construction was pioneered by the Heron Suzuki team as they improved the stiffness to weight ratio hoping to keep pace with the opposition even though the factory had stopped engine development. Examples of the fabricated frame were sent to the factory but the system was not developed and team were forced to abandon it when Suzuki built their own complete machine around the new 'V'' four engine.

Le Mans 1987 and number 34 gets his head down chasing Rob McElnea on the Marlboro Yamaha. World Champion Eddie Lawson is leading the charge on the right of the track with Pier Francesco Chilli and Niall Mackenzie to his left.

Kevin leads Pier Francesco Chili and Christian Sarron round Jerez early on the 1987 season.

"I was the very last person except one off the line at Misano. Yatsushiro and I pushed our bikes to the first turn. He and I raced the whole race together." Kevin got such a bad start that he was lapped by winner Eddie Lawson but still got a point for tenth. Mackenzie was eighth having qualified third. The Scot was signed by Honda to ride their 500 in '87

For Kevin 1987 meant another season riding Superbikes in the states but at least Yoshimura sent a bike with him for the Transatlantic series that Easter. He also had other things on his mind at the time. ''When I went over for the Easter match races I tested the 'V' four at Snetterton. The wind can howl across there at that time of year. In '87 I did Grand Prix at Jerez in Spain, Le Mans for the French Grand Prix and the Italian round at Monza."

"I didn't take that much notice of the new bike, it was just going to be a couple of one off rides to me, I was still concentrating on riding the Superbike in the US. I tested at Snetterton and then just used to keep in touch with the guys at Heron Suzuki to see how everything was going. Kenny Irons was at the test and he rode the 500 for the full season that year for Heron."

"I came back over for Jerez, practice and the race went fairly well and I managed to hang on and beat Mamola who was riding the Lucky Strike Yamaha. That was not a bad achievement at the time because he was a very experienced Grand Prix rider." Fifth was a very impressive performance and it was obvious that he was adapting quickly to the 500 and was likely to be a man of the future. He was letting his riding do the talking and had yet to really make friends in the Grand Prix paddock. He was not as at home in the paddock as he is now.

"I didn't have that much time to get to know the other riders as I would just fly in, do a race and go home again, I didn't have a motorhome or anything. They all seemed pretty easy going people but they kept pretty much to themselves. Eddie and Wayne Gardner were the two top guys and they never saw eye to eye so there wasn't too much socialising going on there. Randy was around and spoke to me a little bit but I really didn't know them."

I remember one thing from '87 I was walking through the paddock with my Dad and we stumbled across Kenny Roberts. So he said, 'What are you guys doing here,' I just said we were here having a bit of fun. He said, 'Trust me, when you're over here full time it isn't any fun.' I think I know where he was coming from. I thought at that time he must be crazy or having a real bad day, how could riding these neat motorcycles and getting paid for it not be fun, there must be something wrong with him. But he's right, there is a ton of work involved in it as well, you should enjoy it and it should be satisfying and all that but it's not 'fun' exactly."

"And then again he's still around so he must be getting some enjoyment out of it somewhere down the line."

Mitsuro Okamoto ('Mitsi') one of the few remaining of the 'old school', the mechanics and engineers of the Sheene Grand Prix era had mostly gone on to other things but 'Mitsi', who had been involved with the first successes of the disk four in 1974, was on hand to pass on some of his experience to the new guard.

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