The ride of their life

What do the best of the best rate as their most cherished moment in the saddle? Racers recall their most rewarding, career-defining rides

Posted: 7 January 2011
by Bertie Simmonds

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NIALL MACKENZIE

1986 HRC test, Suzuka

Our own 'Spuds' Mackenzie had been riding an Armstrong 250 in GPs and ridden the Skoal Bandit RG500 in the last few 500cc races of the year. Then he got a call to go to Japan for a private test with the mighty HRC...

"I was doing the Castrol Six-Hour race in Australia and got the call from HRC. Erv Kanemoto had told them I was worth testing. It was my first time in Japan, and a strange feeling as the bike they gave me to ride was Freddie Spencer's 1986 NSR500. He'd been my hero for years, and here I was sitting on his bike. I knew if I impressed I may be able to get a good ride out of it.

"The bike was awesome, Freddie's settings worked for me and the bike suited the circuit. The NSR was different to the RG I'd ridden; the Suzuki was like a comfy armchair, the NSR felt like a missile. It didn't steer particularly well but with Suzuka having so many fast turns, it worked. I knew I had to ride the wheels off the thing and at least get close to the lap record. Eventually I dipped under it. There was a bit of pressure to do well but I simply had to go as fast as I could. I still remember sitting in the airport waiting to go home with a six-figure HRC contract for the 1987 season in my hands. I couldn't believe it. My love affair with Suzuka continued as I took pole there at the first race of the 1987 season for the HB factory Honda team."


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