WATCH: Wayne Rainey's first run up the Goodwood hill on a YZR500

Check out the footage of Wayne Rainey's first run up the Goodwood hillclimb aboard his 1992 500cc title winning Yamaha YZR500.

Wayne Rainey - Yamaha YZR500 500GP

Wayne Rainey returned to his 1992 500cc World Championship-winning Yamaha YZR500 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, 29 years after he was paralysed in a crash at Misano. 

Wayne Rainey was undoubtedly the dominant force of his time in Grand Prix motorcycle racing. The American came to Europe in the 1980s to race GPs and, under the tutelage of three-times 500cc World Champion Kenny Roberts, eventually became one of the sport’s most distinguished riders. 

Rainey won three titles in succession with Yamaha, at a time of GP racing where the bikes were as complicated and unpredictable to ride as they ever had been. Compared to the rangey, torquey four strokes of 2022, the two stroke 500s of the 1990s were much purer, with no electronics, but also far more difficult to ride due to the peaky power delivery that required the engine to be right at the top of the rev range at all times. 

The monumental power the bikes produced relative to their weight resulted in complicated riding styles and techniques. Compared to today, when GP riders are almost dragging their chin on the floor, then the bikes required a different technique, and the way to make the bike turn, and the way to generate some feedback from the front tyre, was to weight the front, which required a more central riding position. 

Then, on the exit of the corner, the riders worked out that the best way to stop the bike wheelieing was to spin the rear tyre, which meant they were constantly on the edge of a high side, and of course they often went over that limit. 

Rainey and Yamaha’s domination in the early 1990s that saw the American win every title between 1990 and 1992, continued into 1993.

Heading into the race in Misano, Rainey was leading the championship, but a crash which sent him over raised kerbs and through ploughed, furrowed gravel resulted in spinal injuries that would paralyse him from the chest down. Rainey’s great rival, Kevin Schwantz, went on to win the 1993 title, before retiring in 1994 as his main motivation for racing - Rainey, and beating him - was now absent.

Schwantz is present at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this weekend, as is the second dominant rider of the 1990s 500 class, Mick Doohan. Both Schwantz and Doohan, along with the aforementioned Roberts, will ride alongside Rainey on Sunday, but the three-times 500 champion was able to get something of a ‘recce’ in, riding the famous Goodwood hillclimb on Thursday with the YZR500 with which he won the 1992 world title. 

The bike is specially adapted so that Rainey can shift with his hands, and there is an extension on the back of the tank to give him some extra support. You can see Rainey’s first run of the hillclimb, which he did with Kenny Roberts in tow, in the video below.