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Kenny Roberts Rides 1980 Yamaha YZR500 Around Laguna Seca [Video]

Fri, 16 Sep 2011

Kenny Roberts is a true icon of motorcycle roadracing, being the first American to win a 500cc world title, then collecting two more before he moved on to team management.

“Without Kenny, we might not be here,” said Colin Edwards, former World Superbike champion and current MotoGP rider, in the below video. “He was the godfather that brought us all over to Europe and showed us more or less that it was possible. He paved the way for us.”

To celebrate “King” Kenny’s legacy, Yamaha dusted off his 1980 World Championship-winning Yamaha YZR500 for some demonstration laps at the USGP at Laguna Seca in front of an appreciative crowd. Anyone who knows Roberts’ aggressive attitude predicted he would do more than doddle around the track. “Well, he always goes too fast,” said Kel Carruthers, former tuner for Roberts. “He hasn’t gotten any smarter as he got older, so you know he’s going to go faster than he should’ve ought to go.”

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Indeed, as you can see below, Roberts, now nearly 60, rode his old GP bike like he just got off it last year. It’s very cool that Yamaha arranged for this slice of history to be enjoyed by the current generation which has nearly no recollection of screaming GP bikes of old.

By Kevin Duke

See also: Pipewerx's new Slash Cut slip-ons, D'you cover your front brake with a finger?, James Toseland Announces Retirement from Racing.