Author: Stuart Barker Posted: 25 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.
Rider: Kim Barker
Kim Barker raced in the very first year of the original Yamaha Pro-Challenge in 1981 and finished top amateur and second place overall behind eventual champion, Pete Wild. He took several race wins and podium finishes both that season and in the following year's Pro-Am Challenge before moving onwards and upwards. Barker enjoyed wins at club, national, and international level on a mixture of 125, 250 and 350cc machinery before retiring in 1986 when he became 'disillusioned' at not being able to secure the kind of sponsorship he needed to remain competitive.
Barker now lives in Lincoln and is a team manager for electricity utility company, Western Power Distribution. One thing he doesn't do much of these days is ride motorcycles. 'This is 100% genuinely a novelty for me' Barker says. Due to having started racing at 16 and having an international racing licence at 18 - and having no spare money - I never actually took my bike test. So, apart from a Yamaha FS1E when I was 16, I have never owned a road bike and haven't ridden anything since 1986!'
A gap of 29 years might have put some off the idea of racing a motorcycle again but Barker had no hesitation when approached by this year's Pro-Am race organisers. 'It only took me about five seconds to say yes to the chance to race in pro-Am again' he laughs. 'I certainly didn't have to think twice about it. I'm honoured, excited and crapping myself all at the same time! I'd love to win the race but basically I have two hopes – Bob Hope and no hope!'