To pay tribute to Barry Sheene at Phillip Island
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP is set to 'go retro' with Chris Vermeulen at his home Grand Prix in Australia, as the hometown hero pays tribute to his hero and mentor, Suzuki's legendary 1976 and 1977 World Champion Barry Sheene.
25-year-old Queenslander will be riding a one-off Rizla Suzuki GSV-R inspired by Barry Sheene's Suzuki XR-14 Grand Prix bike of the mid-seventies. The 2007 800cc GSV-R will have an individually designed Rizla blue and white paint-scheme that will also feature a tribute to Sheene's famous crossed seven, set within Vermeulen's 71.
Suzuki's Grand Prix winning Australian will also be sporting a retro style race-suit to match the bike and a helmet inspired by Sheene's iconic style.
Vermeulen was singled out as a remarkable talent by Sheene in the nineties and he persuaded the young Aussie to go to Britain and pursue his racing dream. Vermeulen took Sheene's advice and has never looked back since then, winning a World Championship on his way to becoming a full-time MotoGP racer with Rizla Suzuki.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP and Vermeulen will unveil the bike at Phillip Island on Thursday 11th October, in the Team's pit-box at 16.45hrs local time.
Team-mate John Hopkins will be racing in his usual, instantly recognisable Rizla Blue colour scheme at Phillip Island as he lines up alongside Vermeulen for round 16 of the MotoGP World Championship on Sunday 14th October.
“This is a great honour for me to ride the latest generation of Suzuki GP bike in a colour scheme inspired by my hero, Barry Sheene. Barry did a lot to make sure I became a success when I arrived in the UK and I miss him a lot. I rode one of his XR-14 Grand Prix bikes at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last year and that was certainly a privilege, but to ride my bike in the same livery is just awesome. Thanks to Suzuki and the team for letting this happen, I just hope that we can do credit to it!”
Paul Denning - Team Manager:
“Towards the end of 1998, when I was running our fledgling Suzuki British Superbike team, my wife took a call at home and yelled that it was Barry Sheene on the line.
‘Yeah, right, of course it is' was my response but sure enough it was Barry himself telling me that I had to get this new Australian kid on our bike for 1999. We couldn't then, as our deals were done, but it was a great pleasure to shake Chris's hand to become a Suzuki Grand Prix rider just a few years later and I'm sure that Barry would have approved. This one-off livery looks stunning and it's a pleasure to be able to run it in Australia, Barry's second home.”