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Yamaha OW01

Yamaha FZR OW 01 Full Power 145 bhp1989 Yamaha FZR750R OW01

Yamaha was a major force right from the outset of WSB, but not with its own bike. The first race at Donington Park  - April 3, 1988 showed Bimota and its fuel-injected, Yamaha-powered YB4 was the force to be reckoned with. At the time the main Yamaha attack was from a hot factory-kitted but old steel-framed FZ750 in the hands of Fabrizio Pirivano. The sheer determination of the Italian and a big factory effort eventually sawYamaha finish second in WSB's inaugural year. With the championship now firmly established, Yamaha planned its second-year assault with the OW01.

OW01 was the code name for Yamaha's YZF750R, a 1000 unit homologation special based around the Suzuka 8-Hour specials Yamaha ran in 1987 and 1988. The OW01 has a new 20-valve engine carried by a rolling chassis that, as standard, had everything it needed to compete straight out of the crate. As homologation bike it meant anyone in the world could buy one after the race teams that is. If you had £12,700 burning a hole in your pocket, it was a bike to queue up and fight for.

Unfortunately, Yamaha never secured the WSB manufacturers championship with the OW01, but action elsewhere ensured its legendary status. Most notable was the titanic 1991 Fogarty-Hislop clash at the TT where Fogarty secured the lap record but Hislop took the win on a rotary Norton. Terry Rymer finished seventh in the 1989 WSB series on a Loctite OW01, and Rob McElnea won the 1991 British Supercup and was runner-up in the British TT/Superbike series on another Loctite.

The OW01 is a special creature even by today's lightweight, powerful standards. While many OW01 ended their lives on racetracks, there are still some low mileage examples to be found, and they don't cost as much as a Honda RC30 or Ducati 851.

Carl Fogarty said: It was a good bike to ride and I broke the lap record at the TT which stood for seven years. It wasn't the fastest bike in the world, but it handled well and it had quality components. I only rode it on the road at the TT, but I would have loved to have ridden it on short circuits because I would have won a lot more races than I did on the RC30. It suited my riding style more because I could carry a lot of corner speed. You knew exactly what it was doing underneath you, which is what I liked and what I need to be fast.