Steve Wheatman has been a highly respected supplier of exclusive Suzuki racers at the Bikers' Classics. In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Suzuki RG500, Wheatman will bring an impressive 15 bikes to Spa-Francorchamps. He could've brought 25...
Steve Wheatman is not one to boast about his collection but he might well be the proud owner of arguably the biggest collection of Suzuki racers in the world. Of course this Suzuki fest would not be complete without someone of Steve's stature. Two-stroke fan Wheatman checked out his collection – and again – and came up with a list of 15 favourites that will attend the RG's 40th anniversary at Spa-Francorchamps. Some of those bikes were raced by Suzuki icon Barry Sheene. At the 1975 Dutch TT Sheene beat Giacomo Agostini in a straight fight on his XR14. It was the first win of a Suzuki 500 in the World Championship and its owner Wheatman quite rightfully put it on top of his list of bikes to go to Spa. Also on that, list is Sheene's XR27, the bike he raced in the legendary 1979 Silverstone Grand Prix while he battled with Kenny Roberts. Sheene's good friend and former teammate Steve Parrish will let the red and black Heron Suzuki run free at Spa.
Randy Mamola finished second in the 1980 World Championship on an XR34; in the first weekend of July Mick Grant will ride Mamola's Heron Suzuki – the bike that Randy won the Grand Prix of Belgium (at Zolder!) on. Phil Read never won a World Championship on a Suzuki but he did get on the podium twice in 1976. His Team Life MK1 will be on display in the Spa-Francorchamps pitlane.
FROM 'SQUARE 4' TO V4
The Wheatman Express promises to be a very special transport from England to Belgium. It will include a number of RG production racers – like a 1980 MK5 for former Francorchamps winner Wil Hartog – but also a rare Harris RG for Swiss ace Philippe Coulon and a ferocious 1975 TR750 for Tepi Länsivuori. Just like the competition, eventually Suzuki bid farewell to the 'Square 4' concept and went on to produce some extremely interesting V4s. Some of these bikes ended up in Wheatman's collection. Former Lucky Strike Suzuki rider Didier de Radiguès will ride a 1994 XR84. Kevin Schwantz finished fourth in the 1994 championship on this particular bike. Daryl Beattie also sported the famous Lucky Strike livery and his 1996 XR86 will undoubtedly be a shining star in the Francorchamps pitlane. In 1998 Nobu Aoki became a Suzuki factory rider and took his XR88 to ninth in the championship. At the Bikers' Classics, Steve Plater will be more than happy to substitute for Aoki on the blue and white machine.
Visiting Steve Wheatman's unique two-wheeled gallery will surely be worth your while at the Bikers' Classics – to see, to hear and to feel what these screaming two-strokes are still capable of. Like creating a massive traffic jam in the pitlane at the Team Classic Suzuki pit!
Foto: Jan & Hetty Burgers