Scott Redding rides historic Kevin Schwantz Suzuki 500
08 July 2013 10:04
A typical Sunday afternoon on two wheels for Scott Redding is fighting for victories in the Moto2 world championship or having a play on his supermoto bike.
Last Sunday was anything but typical for the 20-year-old though, who got a once in a lifetime chance to ride American legend Kevin Schwantz’s factory Suzuki RGV at the iconic Spa track in Belgium.
The current Moto2 series leader took part in the traditional 500GP parade at the annual Bikers' Classic event at Spa, for which he was joined on track by some of motorcycle racing's greatest champions, including Giacomo Agostini, Phil Read, Wayne Gardner and Christian Sarron.
The experience was something of a surreal one for Redding, who becomes one of the few in history to ride a 500cc two-stroke GP bike and a current generation 1000cc four-stroke after he tested Ducati’s Desmosedici at Mugello last year.
Redding, who holds a 30-point lead over Spanish rival Pol Espargaro going into this weekend’s Sachsenring clash in Germany, said: “Lining up on the grid with all these champions around me, it felt like I was actually taking part in a 500GP race. Sat there on the bike in front of a huge crowd, surrounded by the likes of Wayne Gardner, Christian Sarron and Didier De Radigues, I got a real good feeling for what it must have been like for Kevin Schwantz when he lined up to race this bike back in '94. It was an incredible experience."
The 1994 Suzuki RGV 500 ridden by Redding is owned by Northamptonshire businessman, Steve Wheatman, and is run at events by his own Team Classic Suzuki set up. The bike weighs just 135kg and produces around 195bhp and was the machine which Schwantz took the last of his 25 premier class wins on at Donington Park almost 20 years ago.
The prototype 500cc bike is a very different animal to the four-stroke 600cc machine that Redding campaigns in the Moto2 World Championship and the Marc VDS Racing rider added: “The bike was absolutely amazing. Okay, the brakes weren't great, but we were expecting that. The handling was incredible because the bike is so light; it was really easy to change direction. It accelerated hard too, with the front coming up in every gear. I didn't need a rev counter; I just changed up whenever I felt the front wheel was high enough!
There was a lot of power, but it was pretty controllable, nothing like the razor sharp powerband I was expecting. It turns like a 125 and was still pulling in sixth. They should bring these back. It was absolutely mega to ride! I was knee down and I could see I was quite close with the elbow, so I just leant it over a bit more and down it went. I don't think they did that in 500GP back in 1994, but then the tyres we were using today offer a lot more grip than those Kevin Schwantz had to contend with when he raced the bike."