It’s not every day that a three-time 500cc Grand Prix World Champion takes you on a personal tour of one of his title-winning motorcycles, but MotoAmerica President Wayne Rainey recently took the fairing and fuel tank off his 1990 Marlboro Team Roberts Yamaha YZR500 for the first time in more than three decades. Carrying the Yamaha Works designation “0WC1”, the fire-breathing 500cc two-stroke factory prototype road racer is the exact machine that Rainey raced in the 1990 500cc GP World Championship, and Yamaha gave it to him as a special thank you for winning his first World Championship that year.
In 1990, Rainey notched 7 wins, 14 podiums in 15 races, and 3 pole positions. He was the brightest shining star that season in “America’s Dream Team” managed by three-time 500cc GP World Champ Kenny Roberts, with four-time and defending 500cc World GP Champ Eddie Lawson as his premier-class teammate and 1990 250cc GP World Champ John Kocinski also as his stablemate.
The 1990 Yamaha YZR500 (0WC1) was an evolution of the 1989 YZR500 on which Wayne was runner-up in the 500cc Grand Prix World Championship. For 1990, the bike’s 499cc, two-stroke, power-valve-equipped, V-four engine was upgraded substantially and, in the hands of Team Roberts’ tuners, the 0WC1 produced more than 170 horsepower. In addition, several significant chassis changes were made to improve the bike’s handling. Those changes included positioning the steering head closer to the rider and decreasing the angle of rake in the front end.
The 1990 Yamaha YZR500 0WC1 featured the following specs:
499cc, liquid-cooled, V4, 70° V-bank, two-stroke, counter-rotating crankshafts, carbon-fiber reed valves, Yamaha Power Valve System (YPVS)
Works Yamaha 0W Deltabox® aluminum frame, aluminum monoshock swingarm
Front: Öhlins® upside-down forks; Rear: Single Öhlins® rear shock
Front: Dual Brembo® calipers, dual 320mm carbon rotors; Rear: Single Brembo® caliper, single 220mm steel rotor
Rainey started off the season like gangbusters at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka as he qualified on pole and won the race. And then, at Round Two, which was Rainey’s home track at Laguna Seca, he won again after an epic battle with countryman Kevin Schwantz, who crashed out on the final lap of the race. Rainey then went on to win at Misano, Yugoslavia, Belgium, Sweden, and at Czechoslovakia, which is where he clinched the World Championship with two more rounds left to go in the season.
Watch the video and enjoy Rainey’s narration of some of the features of this special machine: