Following it’s debut at Spain’s Jerez circuit in 2015, and with events at Silverstone and Sachsenring last year, the people behind World GP Bike Legends have joined forces with Yamaha Motor Europe in a deal that will see racing superstars of yesteryear line up on the latest Yamaha YZF-R1s at this year’s meeting, which takes place as part of the Silverstone Classic festival on the weekend of 28-30 July.
The modern R1s will be painted up in liveries inspired by the two-stroke Grand Prix machines of the 1980s, adding to the classic appeal of the event while also allowing the riders to provide competitive race action.
While the first World GP Bike Legends event proved to be something of an anti-climax, due to the rare and fragile period two-stroke machinery being unsuitable for actual racing, the idea has continued to develop. The classic racers will continue to appear, but the adoption of modern bikes mean that the events can also incorporate real races, rather than competitive parades, as well as a chance to meet some of the biggest names in bike racing. Stars who have appeared at past events include the likes of Wayne Gardner, Freddie Spencer, Kevin Schwantz, Phil Read, Jim Redman, Steve Parrish, Graeme Crosby, Loris Capirossi, Christian Sarron, Tadayuki Okada, Pierfrancesco Chili, Didier de Radigues, Carlos Lavado, Garry McCoy, Jeremy McWilliams and Ralf Waldmann.
Commenting on the 2017 format, event ambassador Gardner (pictured with fellow legend Freddie Spencer) said: “We’ve had an outstanding success with World GP Bike Legends. In three years we’ve gone from an idea to 43 million TV viewers and spectators, and this shows that the fans love their classic bikes and catching up with and talking to the legend riders. Yamaha is the first of the manufacturers to join us and will be providing their latest sportsbikes for this season. We’ll still have the classic 500s parading over the weekend, but the races will be with the latest sportsbikes. This will make the racing safer for the riders and allow them to reunite with their brands.”
In addition to the appearance at the Silverstone Classic, World GP Bike Legends organisers say that the series will also appear at other events around Europe later in the year, although no further details have been announced.