Author: Stuart Barker Posted: 14 Aug 2015
The original and best one-make race series has been revived as a special support race at this year's British Grand Prix. The Bennetts Yamaha Pro-Am Challenge will see 24 riders - many of them the original stars of the 1980s series - lining up to bash fairings and tangle elbows on identical Yamaha RD250LCs at Silverstone on August 30. This will be the first Pro-Am race in 31 years and over the next three weeks we'll be profiling every rider on the grid to find out what they achieved in their racing careers, what they've gone on to do since, and why they accepted the challenge to dust down their leathers and race in the wildest race series ever held just one last time.
Charlie Corner was the reigning Marlboro Clubmans 500cc Production champion when he took up the Yamaha Pro-Am Challemge in 1982 and managed to score some top five finishes. 'I was leading at Oulton Park but fell off and Niall Mackenzie ran me over' he laughs. 'He even had the cheek to say I held him up!'
Corner went on to win the British 350cc production Championship in 1984 and made a return to racing as recently as 2007 when he won the ACU Open Championship on a Suzuki GSX-R1000 and competed in the KTM Super Duke series that supported BSB in the same year. He now limits his racing activity to Honda C90 Endurance events but has sneakily bought a Yamaha RD250 to get some practice in for the big race!
Now managing director of a precision sheet metalwork company called Malton Laser, based in Malton, North Yorkshire, Corner says he didn't have to be asked twice to make a return to Pro-Am racing. 'I think I said “Yes” before Mackenzie had even finished the question' he laughs. 'It's brought out the monster in all of us. Everyone's getting really competitive, even if they don't admit it. Usually you can tell who the top three or four are going to be in any race but in this case it's impossible to say. All the riders are really competitive - Mackenzie has dropped to his lowest weight since he stopped racing. I asked Daryll Young at IDP Moto (the firm that's preparing all the bikes) if I could borrow a set of the same tyres that we're going to race on so I could get a feel for them. He said “Sorry - I only had one pair and Mackenzie's already nicked them!'
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