Scott Redding joined a very exclusive club on Sunday at Spa Francorchamps, when he lapped the iconic Belgian circuit aboard a Suzuki RGV500 that Kevin Schwantz
campaigned in the 1994 500cc World Championship.
Redding rode the Suzuki during the traditional 500GP parade at the annual Bikers' Classic event at Spa, for which he was joined on track by some of motorcycle racing's greatest champions, including Giacomo Agostini, Phil Read, Wayne Gardner and Christian Sarron.
"Lining up on the grid with all these champions around me, it felt like I was actually taking part in a 500GP race," declared Redding.
"Sat there on the bike in front of a huge crowd, surrounded by the likes of Wayne Gardner, Christian Sarron and Didier De Radigues, I got a real good feeling for what it must have been like for Kevin Schwantz
when he lined up to race this bike back in '94. It was an incredible experience."
As might be expected with so many former champions on track together, the so-called 10-lap parade quickly degenerated into a full on race. After forcing his way past Sarron, Gardner and Didier De Radigues, Redding eventually finished a close second behind Steve Plater, who was riding the Suzuki RGV500 XR88 on which Kenny Roberts
won four races and finished second in the 1999 500GP World Championship.
"I got a good start to lead through Eau Rouge, but this was my first time on the track on two wheels, on a bike I only slung a leg over ten minutes beforehand," revealed Redding. "The rest of the guys rode yesterday, so they had a bit of an advantage in the opening laps, but it didn't take me long to get a feel for the bike and to figure out the lines.
"I managed to push my way back up into second and then had a great battle with Steve Plater over the last few laps. In the end I couldn't quite find a way past him before the chequered flag, but second place isn't too bad for my first outing on a 500GP bike!"
The 1994 RGV500 XR84 ridden by Redding is owned by Northamptonshire businessman, Steve Wheatman, and is run at events by his own Team Classic Suzuki set up. The bike weighs just 135kg and produces around 195BHP from it's 70° V-Four, 498cc two-stroke engine, enough to propel it to a top speed approaching 320km/h with the right gearing.
It's a very different animal to the four-stroke, 600cc machine that Redding campaigns in the Moto2 World Championship and, judging from the list of injuries Schwantz sustained during his career, a little less forgiving too!