Sasol Yamaha Display

A new display stand has been set up in Hall D, featuring the Sasol Yamaha fuel research motorcycle. In 1992, Yamaha was trying its hand at Formula 1 and was building engines for the Jordan team. Yamaha provided a free supply of the OX99 3,5-litre 72-degree V12 engine for the Jordan 192 race car, and taking over the sponsorship reins was South Africa’s fuel and energy company Sasol. The companies worked diligently together to maximise the power available to them both from the engine and the fuel source, but F1 is an expensive game. Sasol’s budget was tight and it needed another machine to develop its high quality F1-standard fuel.

The answer lay with the FZR 1000 inline-four motorcycle engine, which featured five valves per cylinder together with Yamaha’s EXUP (Exhaust Ultimate Power Valve) system. Producing 106 kW at 10 000 r/min, it gave excellent performance and was ideal for testing fuel consumption, burn rates, temperatures etc, and the test mule was the bike now on display at FMM. When taking delivery, it was a surprise to see that the Yamaha only had 11 km on the odometer, making this beautiful survivor a prime example of an early-’90s superbike while its provenance is another great symbol in SA’s proud motoring heritage.

First introduced in 1987, the Yamaha FZR set the way as a superbike, offering the size and feel of a 750 machine but with the power of a 1 000. It could rev up to 11 500 on its way to a top speed close to 270 km/h, out-running its Japanese counterparts by some 10 km/h. Its closest rivals at the time were longer, higher and slower. Even the ergonomics of the FZR were a revelation, the rider sitting deeper into the bike with knees no longer up around the tank. Together with a relatively smooth gearbox and great brakes, the FZR was the class leader in 1992.