Top 10: one-make race series

Author: Phil West Posted: 19 Jun 2015

This week we reported news of one of the most iconic one-make race series making a come back at the British round of the MotoGP World Championship at the end of August. Bike Social understands the Grand Prix promoters are set to announce a revival of the popular 80's Yamaha Pro-Am series so here we look at some of the best one-make series over the last 30 years or so, in no particular order...

KTM RC390 CUP 2015

Race action at Donington Park of the teenagers at war

One-make racing series are once again grabbing the headlines this year with the launch of the KTM RC390 Cup, a series for up-and-coming young racers aboard identical bikes supplied by KTM and run as a support race at BSB rounds (and also across Europe). As such, it’s a great way for teenage racers to make their mark and gain some priceless publicity.


YAMAHA RD350LC PRO AM SERIES 1981-84

Wrangler and Which Bike were the series sponsor back in the day

Not the first but arguably the most infamous and entertaining of them all. 24 identical ‘hooligan’ LCs (in ’81 unfaired, in ’82 with the famous Pro-Am bikini fairings and from 1983 in YPVS ‘Wrangler’ form), ridden by 24 invited riders (12 established ‘pros’ like Rob McElnea and Alan Carter, 12 up-coming amateurs, for example Niall MacKenzie) and utter carnage on ITV’s World of Sport every Saturday.


HONDA CB500 CUP 1997-2000

In 1997 James Toseland won the CB500 Cup

Launched first in France in 1996, this one-make series using Honda’s commuter twin moved to the UK in 1997 and was famously won by a 17-year-old James Toseland whose reward was a contract with the Castrol Honda European Supersport team. And the rest, as the say, is history. James Ellison, meanwhile, launched out of the class in 2009. It was dropped as a support class to the British championship in 2000 but continued as a club class, including Kawasaki ER-5s and Suzuki’s GS500, until 2009


TRIUMPH SPEED TRIPLE CHALLENGE, 1994-1996

Race bikes were developed by Ron Haslam

Another 1-make series initiated to promote the resurgent Hinckley firm’s new cafe racer. No less than Ron Haslam developed the bike and dealer teams provided the entries. A one-off race, won by Mike Edwards, was run as a support to the British GP at Donington in July 1994 followed by a full championship in 1995 and 96 including the likes of Haslam, David Jefferies, John Reynolds and James Hayden and supported by Mobil. Mark Phillips won the series in 1995, Jeffries in ’96.


HONDA CBR600 CHALLENGE, 1987/1988

Probably the series which came closest to Yamaha’s ProAm for fairing-bashing carnage and all-round entertainment, the CBR600 Challenge ran in the UK for two years, featuring names like Geoff Johnson, Ian Simpson and Eric McFarlane, sometimes at oddball circuits like Carnaby, and did a great deal to help create the Supersport racing class which launched a couple of years later. The 1987 series race bikes, incidentally, were red, the 1988 ones white.


BMW BOXER CUP 1999-2004

Introduced to emphasise the R1100S's ability, not particularly upside down

A global one-make race series supporting the GP series along with selected endurance and BSB rounds the Boxer Cup was initiated by BMW to emphasise the sporting ability of its R1100S, involved famous names like Stephane Mertens and Randy Mamola and spawned two limited edition, road going replicas of the racers – both of which remain highly prized today.


YAMAHA XJR CUP 1995-1998

Modified XJR1200's with Phil Read leading

Sadly this bristly series never made it to the UK, instead being set up by France to accompany leading events, such as the Le Mans 24-hour. Bikes were modded XJR1200s complete with tasty single seat units and handlebars fairings, guest riders included the likes of no less than Christian Sarron. Best of all was the one-off ‘XJR Star Show’ demo at the 1995 French GP which included no less than Randy Mamola, Phil Read, Eddie Lawson, Kenny Roberts, Franco Uncini, Giacomo Agostin and more all aboard specially liveried bikes. Maybe these should have been the inspiration for the recent XJR1300 Racer instead…


SUZUKI GSX-R750 CUP

elf-explanatory series that’s run intermittently Europe-wide over past two decades but probably most famously as a global event in the early 1990s including Brits such as Jamie Whitham and Ray Stringer all culminating in a final at Hockenheim.


YAMAHA R6 CUP

Another popular series that’s intermittently repeated and following a familiar format both in the UK and abroad. The 2003 UK version was more significant than most, however, for being conceived by Virgin Yamaha team boss Rob McElnea who brought in Virgin as sponsor, restricted in to 18-22 year-olds, and offered a BSB ride to the series winner. That was the springboard for a certain Tommy Hill. Second in the championship was a then unknown Cal Crutchlow…

Cal Crutchlow in the R6 cup. Photo credit: bikeracing.it


APRILIA SUPERTEEN CHALLENGE

2011 Champ, Bennetts-sponsored Joe Francis

Arguably far more than ‘just’ a one-make racing series, more of an industry designed to get youngsters into racing. The Superteen series is designed for 12-18 year-olds aboard identical, slightly modded RS125 road sportsters and has proved a successful launch pad for the likes of Casey Stoner, Cal Crutchlow, Bradley Smith, Leon Camier, Danny Webb, Tommy Hill, Danny Kent and many more.

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