May 13, 2009 The opportunity to own a world championship winning motorcycle is extremely rare. Usually, the only chance to obtain such a beastie is reserved for the people who have ridden them, and hence very few championship winning bikes exist outside the private collections of former world champions, or in factory museums. Now former Grand Prix motorcycle road racing world champion Franco Uncini has decided to auction the Suzuki 500 XR40 on which he won the his 1982 World MotoGP Championship via international Auction House COYS in Monaco on May 18.
The Suzuki 500 XR40 – number 13 – is expected to make up to EUR 350,000 and is one of 16 famous bikes that will be auctioned at COYS famous Legende et Passion sale which is held at the Espace Fontvieille in Monaco. Chris Routledge the Managing Director of the International Auction house said: “It is one thing selling a machine which has such a fantastic history but to have the actual rider in attendance is really special and a real plus for whoever purchases the bike.”
Other bikes on offer include both the 1990 and 1991 World Championship winning Honda 125 RSR’s ex Loris Capirossi, the 1992 Aprilia 250 number 44 ex Jean-Michel Bayle and a 1973 Morbidelli 125 number 1, the property of 13-times World Champion Angel Nieto.
Franco Uncini made his debut as professional motorcycle road racer in the 750cc class with Laverda, moving later to Ducati, with whom he earned various titles as Italian champion. His first year in the Grand Prix World Championship was with Yamaha in 1976, in both the 250cc and the 350cc classes.
The following year he continued to race in both classes, this time with the Harley-Davidson team, winning two Grands Prix in 250cc (Grand Prix of Nations and Czechoslovakia) and finishing second in championship behind Mario Lega. However, his quarrelsome relationship with teammate Walter Villa forced him to move back to Yamaha. After some disappointing years with a privateer Yamaha team, in 1979 he bought a Suzuki and launched a private team of his own in the 500cc class. He was the top-ranking privateer both in 1979 and 1980, with 5th and 4th place finishes. Accidents hindered his 1981 season, but after Marco Lucchinelli left Suzuki to join Honda, Suzuki offered Uncini an official factory-sponsored race bike run by Roberto Gallina’s team.
Finally, with a competitive vehicle, Uncini won the World Championship in 1982, scoring five victories (GPs of Austria, Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Great Britain and GP of Nations). He was the last Italian rider to win the 500cc crown before Valentino Rossi won in 2001.