The ex-Jean-Francois Baldé
1989 Yamaha TZ250W Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. 003229
The mainstay of 250cc class racing at national and international level for many years, the twin-cylinder two-stroke Yamaha well deserved the title of 'privateer's friend'. Following its successful adoption for the 1972 works twins, water cooling first appeared on Yamaha's over-the-counter racers with the introduction of the TZ range in 1973. Power output remained the same as that of the preceding air-cooled TD/TR models, but reliability was much improved. Over the succeeding decade the TZ engine was updated with reed-valve induction, exhaust power valves, separate cylinders and a backwards-rotating crankshaft, but the layout always remained that of a parallel twin. On the chassis side, discs replaced the original drum brakes, a 'lowboy' frame was introduced and an aluminium-alloy swinging arm adopted. One of the most significant developments was the adoption of crankcase-reed induction in 1985, which was immediately followed by a totally new 'Delta-box' aluminium alloy chassis; then in 1988 the cylinders were reversed on the TZ250U and a side-loading cassette gearbox introduced. The TZ250W of 1989 represented a further, though relatively minor, revision of this new design.
Despite these advances, by this time the writing was on the wall for the traditional TZ engine and in 1991 Yamaha fell into step with rivals Honda and Aprilia by introducing a v-twin on the TZ250B (the TZ had been around for so long that Yamaha had all but exhausted the alphabet and been forced to start again at 'A' in 1990). In its new form the TZ continued on into the 1990s.
This particular TZ250W was campaigned by the French rider Jean-François Baldé in his final season of Grand Prix racing in 1989, hence the multi-lingual farewell messages on the fairing. Baldé had begun his Grand Prix career in 1973 in the 500cc class and scored his first victory (riding a 250cc Kawasaki) in 1981, finishing 2nd in the 250cc World Championship that year, his best-ever result. In a 16-year career in Grands Prix, he started over 200 races and finished on the podium's top step five times. Sadly, there were to be no points-scoring finishes in 1989.
With the 250cc class now defunct at World championship level, these purpose-built Grand Prix racers are becoming increasingly collectible and this TZ250W represents a wonderful opportunity to acquire an example raced by one of France's foremost Grand Prix stars of the 1970/80s.