1972 Yamaha YZ623C 125cc Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. 17620
Engine no. 101
Following the Yamaha works team's withdrawal from Grand Prix racing at the end of the 1968 season, Honda and Suzuki having pulled out at the end of 1967, the Hammamatsu company continued to be well represented in GPs thanks to its over-the-counter racers. However, while Yamaha catered for the 250 and 350cc classes with the TD and TR series respectively, there was no official offering for the 125cc class at that time, although many privateers campaigned race-kitted YAS1 and AS2 roadsters. Following the introduction of the AS3 roadster for 1971, Yamaha at last took the opportunity to offer a proper factory-built, 125cc production racer the TA125 although the latter continued to share many components with its road-going cousin.
The Yamaha factory returned to Grand Prix racing in 1970 via Yamaha Motor NV in Holland, supporting Rod Gould and Kent Andersson with works developments of the TD/TR, while Andersson was also given a pre-production TA125 to race in 1971. One of the foremost Yamaha exponents of this period of Grand Prix racing, Swedish rider Kent Andersson had begun his competition career back in 1964 and was one of the first customers for Yamaha's TD1 production racer. A string of good GP placings aboard the TD1 and its TD2 successor led to an offer of support from Yamaha Europe (then based in Hamburg) which Kent duly rewarded by scoring the first ever Grand Prix win for a Yamaha over-the-counter racer at the Nürburgring in 1969.
Kent finished 2nd in the 250cc World Championship that year behind Kel Carruthers (Benelli) and followed it up with 3rd place in 1970. Despite being close to 6' in height, he quickly adapted to the diminutive Yamaha 125, which would eventually bring him his two World Championships. Interviewed by Classic Racer magazine (March/April 2002 issue) Andersson recalled how it came about: 'In 1969 I'd already ridden the prototype of the TA125, which Yamaha was developing because of the new rules banning more than two cylinders and in fact Maico had tried to sign me to a works 125GP contract, though I obviously chose Yamaha in the end. I'd always liked riding the 125s, even though at 1.79m I was a little bit tall for the class, so for 1971 Yamaha asked me to race the pre-production TA, which to begin with was quite heavily based on the AS3 street bike.'
Following a promising 125 GP debut season in 1971, Andersson received a new, works-only, water-cooled twin - the YZ623C - for 1972 and scored three Grand Prix victories that year on his way to finishing 2nd in the World Championship behind Angel Nieto (Derbi) with team-mate Chas Mortimer 3rd. The following season Kent took his first World title, an achievement he repeated the following year, while Tommy Robb added to the little YZ's trophy list by winning the 125cc TT at the Isle of Man in 1973.
The machine offered here is an original factory YZ623C complete with the works-type short-stroke engine and the forks and magnesium brakes of the water-cooled RA31A V4 125 of 1968. Its restoration in 2000 involved the re-manufacturing of missing parts using original Yamaha factory drawings, and since completion the machine has been ridden by Andersson, Robb, Jos Shurgers, Bruno Kneubühler and Pierpaolo Bianchi. Ferry still has Kent Andersson's title-winning YZ632C and the example offered here is the only other survivor of this ultra-rare factory racer. The machine is offered with assorted photographs and a specification sheet.
- The frame number is: 623101