Suzuki is celebrating Joan Mir’s overall victory in the 2020 MotoGP World Championship by releasing the limited edition GSX-R1000R Legend Edition series, featuring liveries inspired by Suzuki’s seven premiere class titles. The bikes are stock, with the exception of an Akrapovic exhaust and solo seat cowl, and will currently only be available in Europe.
While the first 25 years of Grand Prix motorcycle racing’s top class was dominated by the European manufacturers, Giacomo Agostini broke the ice for the Japanese factories in 1975 riding for Yamaha. This was followed closely in 1976 and ’77 by Barry Sheene on a Suzuki. Yamaha would dominate again until Marco Lucchinelli’s win in 1981 and Franco Uncini’s in 1982, both aboard Suzukis. From there, however, Honda and Yamaha would trade championship overall wins all the way until 2019, with only three exceptions: Kevin Schwantz would win with Suzuki in 1993, Kenny Roberts, Jr. with Suzuki in 2000, and Casey Stoner’s win with Ducati in 2007. Mir’s win in 2020 ends a 20-year drought for Suzuki, giving them less than half of the premiere class championships as Yamaha, and a third of Honda’s.
When Sheene won Suzuki’s first rider’s championship in the 500cc class in 1976, his Suzuki RG500 XR14 was adorned with Heron Suzuki colours and a distinctive number seven with a European-style line across the middle.
Sheene’s 1977 championship winning bike had similar graphics to his 1976 bike, but added a Suzuki sticker to the sides of the fairing, and Suzuki has emulated that with the Legend Edition, although the logo is scaled considerably larger.
Lucchinelli would win the overall in 1981 on a red, white and blue Suzuki with the logo of his helmet sponsor, Nava, featured prominently. That logo is missing from the Legend Edition, but the colours remain.
Uncini’s 1982 win would be on an XR40 sporting lucky number 13, after finishing 13th in the championship the year before.
After finishing fourth, second, third, and fourth again in the previous four years, popular and flamboyant rider Kevin Schwantz would finally win the 500cc World Championship in 1993. The Legends Edition of his bike sports the Lucky Strike circle and colour scheme, and his signature number 34.
Kenny Roberts, Jr. would win the title for Suzuki in 2000. The son of another legend, Kenny Roberts, who won the title for Yamaha in 1980, the two are the only father-son duo to manage the feat. Junior’s team was sponsored by Telefonica Movistar, a Spanish telecommunications company, and the Legend Edition features their distinctive yellow chequered flag graphic.
Twenty years after Suzuki last won the series, Spanish racer Joan Mir would bring the championship back to the factory from Hamamatsu. The GSX-R1000R is already available with Mir’s Ecstar graphics, so Suzuki celebrated his win by adding gold accents.
With performance, electronics, and rideability that eclipses that of any of the bikes they are replicating (with the obvious exception of Mir’s), buyers of a Legend Edition GSX-R1000R can live their Grand Prix dreams without having to earn a factory Suzuki ride. Team mechanics are not included.
Sources: rideapart.com, Suzuki