The R1 built to take on Rossi

Published: 02 December 2002

This is the British-built bike that’s going to take on the world in next year’s MotoGP championship. Top tuning squad Harris, based in Hertford, will design the machine, based on a heavily-modified version of Yamaha’s R1.

Harris is building the machine in conjunction with Peter Clifford’s WCM Grand Prix squad. Clifford ran the Yamaha squad of Garry McCoy and John Hopkins until sponsors Red Bull pulled the plug at the end of this season.

Harris has plenty of experience in racing’s top-flight, most notably campaigning Sean Emmett on a Yamaha two-stroke in the mid-nineties.

Although the finished article will comply with MotoGP’s strict prototype rules the essential machine will still be based on the best-selling road bike.

Heading up the WCM team will be Dave Hagen, one of the most respected engine builders in the UK. Hagen was Crescent Suzuki’s chief engine tuner until 2002, when he left to start up his own engineering outfit in West Sussex.

Hagen has already mapped out the new machine’s development with a 180bhp, purpose built engine, in a near-stock chassis, ready for testing by February 2003. The squad expects it to exceed 200bhp sometime thereafter.

The team expects to announce riders and title sponsors shortly, with a possible tie-up with Brit Jay Vincent on the cards. Other riders in the frame are Spaniard David de Gea and Germany’s Alex Hoffman.