Kevin Curtain on the unique 1998 Yamaha R1
Kevin Curtain used the 1998 Yamaha YZF-R1 to wonderful impact in the course of the 1998 Australian Manufacturing Superbike Championship season.
The 1998 YZF-R1 was all the time meant to be raced, however on the time of its launch there was no official Australian championship class for it.
Components Xtreme wasn’t an ‘official’ Australian championship, so Motorcycling Australia created a race sequence for this new technology of 1000 cc four-cylinder machine referred to as Manufacturing Superbike.
This new class could be run inside the Australian Superbike Championship, which nonetheless ran 750 cc four-cylinder and 1000 cc twin-cylinder machines.
Kevin Curtain and the Radar’s Yamaha Group had been the principle gamers within the discipline, and got here away with a commanding victory within the Manufacturing Superbike Championship that season. Right here, Curtain takes a stroll down reminiscence lane.
“When the ’98 R1 got here out it was an actual head turner,” Curtain says. “We knew it could be a great factor, however had been weren’t allowed to do a lot tuning in any respect as a result of the 750 cc guys had been up in arms about us racing a 1000 cc machine. Humorous factor was our bike value beneath $20,000 and the FIM-spec bikes had been all means over $100,000!
“We had been restricted to primarily an exhaust, air filter and a few carby tuning – no particular cams or something. These R1s had been a little bit of a lightweight swap in energy supply however with the correct jetting you would make them fairly easy.”
Legendary Australian tuner Dave ‘Radar’ Cullen was teamed with Kevin Curtain in 1998 and remembers the YZF-R1 fondly.
“The R1 was actually a ground-breaking machine,” Cullen says. “It was up to now in entrance of the remainder of the pack and miles forward of the ThunderAce. From reminiscence we by no means had any reliability points.
“The engine benefited from Yamaha’s involvement in Components One on the time with Tyrell in that it confirmed how a lot nearer you would package deal the cylinders collectively. We ran the inventory airbox and we had been allowed to vary that in 1999, however we already had some nice energy out of the brand new engine and with Kev driving so nicely that season it was a great 12 months.
“We didn’t have any of the clutch points that affected the usual roadbikes, however that was as a result of we had the clutch out recurrently to verify it after every race – the engine itself was bulletproof. Our bike was offered to Roger Heyes.
“It’d be good to see if the bike nonetheless exists – from reminiscence it was quantity two from the worldwide manufacturing line. I used to be provided primary by Yamaha, but it surely was a pink/white machine and I ran my riders in blue again then – I didn’t wish to take it as a result of we’d have to color the tank. If it was primary worldwide and we gained all these races on it, I reckon it’d be price a bit now!”
Jamie Stauffer went on to win the Australian Superbike Championship on a YZF-R1 in each 2006 and 2007.
Yamaha then went 15 years with out successful the championship till Mike Jones lifted the crown in 2022.