Kenny Roberts' 1980 Yamaha YZR OWR 48 beautifully illustrated by Peter Hutton
500cc four cylinder normally aspirated two stroke delivering just shy of 300bhp per litre. Cylinders one and four had forward facing carbs and rear facing exhausts, cylinders two and three were conventionally arranged: carbs rear, exhausts forward. The gain over the conventional all rear carbs, all forward exhausts was around 10bhp. Kenny Roberts won his 3rd world crown on the bike. It was a notoriously peaky handful but very light and quick. At the end of the YZR's development the engines were developing around 200bhp (400bhp per litre) in a bike weighing around 130kg. 1500bhp per tonne! Today's 1000cc Moto GP bikes, all normally aspirated 4 strokes, deliver around 280bhp in a bike weighing 157kg. Give or take 1800bhp per tonne. Today 0-300kmph is sub ten seconds. Extreme danger is in the rider's contracts.
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