Claiming The First 500cc Rider's Title
The 1983 season will always be remembered by motorcycle racing fans. Of the 12 races that made up the World GP series that year, just two riders - Yamaha's Kenny Roberts and Honda's Freddie Spencer - claimed all of the pole positions and race victories between them, providing a memorable head-to-head season-long duel. Equal on race wins, Spencer ultimately won the title by a margin of two points, giving Honda its first World GP 500cc rider's championship. At the same time, Honda won the constructor's title for the first time since its Grand Prix comeback.
However, during this era, huge progress was made in tyre technology, with radial rubber making its way onto the tracks. This allowed those using four-cylinder engines to compete on equal terms. By 1984, Honda had its own four-cylinder racer (the NSR500) to take up the challenge at a time of extreme horsepower battles.
In 1985, Freddie Spencer entered both the 500cc and 250cc Class using Honda's first works two-stroke racing bikes. Spencer was given an RS250RW and won the title with ease with this one-off machine, and duly secured the 500cc championship, too. To date, no-one has managed this feat since. Production versions of the RS250 found their way into the showrooms, and with Honda also involved in the 125cc Class, it was once again a force to be reckoned with on the GP scene.
The power battle continued in the 1990s, with engines often delivering far more than the contemporary racing tyres could handle. Only a handful of riders were able to convert the additional power into greater speed. In effect, the machines had become monsters that very few could deal with. Recognizing this fact, Honda sought the develop a bike that would have the necessary power, but also be far more forgiving in its handling.
In 1992, Honda developed the 'Big Bang' engine, with its unconventional ignition timing and distinctive, deep exhaust note. Honda ace Mick Doohan showed superb pace with the new NSR500 until an injury ended his challenge that season. This latest version of the bike was so impressive it was also able to compete in the MotoGP Class. It was a technological marvel that left a lasting impression on the racing world. Doohan was also impressive, winning the 500cc title with Honda five times from 1994 onwards.
From 1984, when the NSR500 made its debut, until 2002, when the final version of the series was built, the NSR500 spawned 11 rider's titles and gave Honda 14 constructor's titles. 1997 was the best season for the model, with 15 wins, some of them counting toward a record-breaking run of 22 consecutive victories. The NSR500 will go down in history as a legendary bike of the 1990s.
It was carried out three successive victories with Masao Azuma in the 125cc, Daijiro Katoh in the 250cc and Valentino Rossi in the 500cc class of a last race in Japanese GP, performed in opening game at Suzuka Circuit in 2001, and Honda marked unreached 500 wins with the World Championship Road Racing Grand Prix at last.