Historic Racebike Illustrations: 1983 Kawasaki GPz750 Superbike

Historic Racebike Illustrations: 1983 Kawasaki GPz750 Superbike

© 2019, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.

Featured In the August 2019 Issue of Roadracing World:

      The story of this bike’s 1983 race season is a road
race version of David and Goliath.

      When the AMA reduced nominal engine size from
1025cc to 750cc for the increasingly popular Superbike class, it sent shock
waves through the racing community. All the knowledge and painstaking work from
previous years was negated by the stroke of the rule maker’s pen.

      The claimed rationale was to attract more
factory-backed teams; however, Suzuki and Yamaha watched from the sidelines,
leaving only Honda and Kawasaki participating with factory bikes. Honda was
more than ready with the VF750R (See the July 2018 issue of Roadracing World,
Historic Racebike Illustrations) that had been developed at the end of 1982.
But Kawasaki’s U.S. race team did not get deliveries of the new GPz750 until
the start of the 1983 season.

      Compared to Honda’s water-cooled, 4-valve V4 VF750R
racebike, the GPz was at best old-school, almost vintage! The transverse Inline
Four air-cooled engine with two valves per cylinder sat in a conventional
twin-loop, steel-tube frame.

      Predictably, Kawasaki factory riders Wes Cooley and
Wayne Rainey had a tough season opener at Daytona. Reliability issues dogged
the pair in practice and were responsible for Cooley retiring in the race. The
best Rainey could do was a distant fourth. As if Honda’s technical advantage
was not enough, the grids were packed with race-kitted VF750R’s fielded by
dealers …

–Historic Race Illustrations: 1983 Kawasaki GPz750, by Mick Ofield

Kawasaki
didn’t let a tough start to the 1983 season keep it down for long. The factory team
dug in and developed the venerable GPz into a racebike that, in the hands of Wayne
Rainey, was good enough to take the AMA Superbike Championship. The details of the
development are in the August 2019 issue of Roadracing World!


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