car news

Yamaha YZR500 of Kenny Roberts auctioned for $321,000

November 22, 2022

The rare Yamaha factory racer certainly does not owe its high yield at Iconic Motorbike Auctions in America to its successes. Kenny Roberts Jr. never made it to the podium in the only season he rode with it. That was in 1996 at Team Marlboro Yamaha, which was managed by father Roberts Sr. In the overall standings, jr. no further than 13th place. He later scored better on a Suzuki with which he became vice world champion in 1999 and world champion in 2000.

Team Marlboro Yamaha

So the Yamaha cannot be accorded hero status, but to no avail during the auction. The factory racer was hammered down for 321,000, which is an unprecedented high. Certainly, it is a unique specimen in perfect condition, on which a 2000 world champion made the first meters in 500cc motorcycle racing. That affects value, but there’s more….

Yamaha factory racer from Roberts

This YZR500 was also the last factory racer in which father King Kenny Roberts Sr. still had a hand in terms of development. That in turn makes this machine special for enthusiasts. Frame and the V4 500cc two-stroke were completely newly developed for 1996 season. The block produced 177 horsepower. Moreover, according to the auction, this would be the only 1996 Yamaha factory race bike outside the Yamaha museum. Such a fact again drives the price up further, as does a sticker on the frame from the technical inspection for the British GP at Donington Park.

Yamaha YZR 500 fully restored

According to the auction house, the machine came into the possession of Kenny Roberts after 1996, who sold it to a motorcycle store, which in turn sold it to a private buyer in England. This owner has completely restored the racer. During this year’s hill climb at Goodwood (2022), Kenny Roberts drove it. So it is in perfect running condition, which explains the high price. The name of the new owner was not disclosed.