1998 - The Full Story
Pete Graves Racing - with - Yamaha
1998 was a sensational racing season for Pete Graves Racing and Yamaha. Pete left hospital after finishing Leukaemia treatment at the end of January, and by the end of March had won the first round of "The People Privateers Cup" in the MCN British Superbike Championship. He went on to win 6 more rounds of the series: more than any other rider, but did not win overall after breaking down five times while leading. He also humbled multi-million pound factory teams, by beating their riders on his two year old private race bike.
Meanwhile Yamaha won their third successive British Superbike Championship with their YZF75O. Pete also rode a new YZF 1000 R1 Yamaha in the new Powerbike British Championship. By the end of the year the team were third overall in the British Championship with two wins. They were best Yamahas, best non-factory bike, and the team to beat in the second half of the season.
Pete and the team also attracted huge coverage for Yamaha and their R1. Full-page articles in the Daily Express and the Telegraph previewed Petes comeback to racing, and race reports continued throughout the season. After the last round Motor Cycle News tested the team R1, declaring it the fastest R1 in the UK, and giving it a four-page colour spread.
After a season such as this there is only one place further to go, and that is No. 1. Pete and the team propose to continue their winning association with Yamaha in 1999, by winning the Supersport 600 British Championship with the new Yamaha YZF600 R6.The Results - British Superbike & Powerbike Championships
Brands Hatch: - Won the first race back, and broke down while leading the second.
Donington Park: - Retired from the first Powerbike race with a trapped fuel line, while lying 5th.
Oulton Park: - Crashed in the rain in race 1. Retired from race 2 with flat tyre, while lying a close 2nd privateer.
Thruxton: - Third Privateer in both races, but beat all but one of the factory Ducatis.
Snetterton: - Double win in the Superbike Privateers, and fourth on the Powerbike R1.
Donington Park: - Missed practice, so started from the back row of the grid. Took the lead in race 1, then broke down. 2nd in race 2.
Donington Park: - British Grand Prix. Fourth again in the Powerbikes, but the Yamaha R1 is improving rapidly.
Oulton Park: - Won race 1 in the dry, but rode to a steady 4th in the wet second race.
Brands Hatch: - World Superbikes. Won the British Powerbike Championship race, setting a new Lap record.
Knockhill: - Leading Privateer in race 1 when the fuel filter came loose and caused a huge crash. Could not start race 2. In Powerbike race 1 Pete broke the lap record to catch the leader, but broke down on the last lap. Could not start race 2.
Mallory Park: - The frame was still bent from Knockhill. Pete only managed 5th and 4th privateer in the two Superbike races.
Cadwell Park: - Passed all the championship contenders to take the lead in race 1, when the engine failed. In race 2 Pete was leading again when he crashed, colliding with a factory rider two bends from home. Remounted to finish 3rd privateer.
Silverstone: - With problems in Superbike race 1, finished 3rd Privateer. Second privateer by just 0.04 of a second in race 2. In the Powerbike race Pete led over the line, but took 2nd in an aggregate result by 0.4 of a second.
Brands Hatch: - Back to normal with a double victory in the Superbike Privateers Cup.
Donington Park: - 3rd Privateer in the damp first race, but could not start race 2 with mechanical problems.
Thruxton: - Pete was 3rd in his first ever Aprilia 250cc race, then resoundingly won the Powerbike International.
The 1998 British Powerbike Championship - Roundup
After a late start to the season, caused partly by Petes 6 months in hospital, the RI was barely finished for the first race. With the development well behind, the best the team could manage in the early races was a pair of 4th places at Snetterton and Donington Park. They also suffered a DNF in the first round, missing out on a probable fourth place. However all this changed for the second half of the season.
By the Oulton Park round of the championship the major problems with the RI had been ironed out, and it was a fully competitive machine. Pete qualified it third at Oulton Park, before finding that the two factory Hondas had been running illegal air-boxes. Although he was the quickest legal rider on the grid, the race was a wet-weather disaster, yielding only 8th place.
However the next round at Brands Hatch was a resounding win, at the World Superbike event, and in front of 83,000 people. It also marked a year to the day since Pete started chimotherapy in 1997. For the rest of the season we were the team to beat, but as luck would have it only able to take one further win.
At Knockhill we broke the lap record and caught the factory Honda on the last lap, before the clutch broke and destroyed the engine. This meant we were unable to start the second race, the following day.
With Yamahas considerable support the bike was re-built for the Silverstone round.Here we led over the line as the flag came out, but as the race had been stopped an aggregate result was declared, and we were awarded second place by a fraction of a second.
The final round of the series at Thruxton was declared a two-part race to fill the grid. In addition to Powerbikes the race was open to 1300cc and Superbikes. The Honda team had already won the series, so they elected to tune their machines beyond the scope of the Powerbike rules, in the hope of winning the overall result. Our Yamaha continued in powerbike trim, and still we beat the Honda team to win the final round of the Powerbike Championship, and the Powerbike International race outright.
This left us third overall in the championship, best private team, best Yamaha, with two wins. Although equal on points to one other rider we were third after two wins to the other teams none. We beat them in every round of the championship where we both finished. These results are with particular thanks to Yamaha for the use of the RI, and their support with spare parts and the engine rebuild after Knockhill.
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