Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859

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Lot 442
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859

Sold for £ 51,750 (US$ 69,286) inc. premium
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning
1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
• Ultra-rare factory machine
• Believed to be Tait's 1976 North West 200 750-class winning machine
• Outstandingly original and unmolested
• Present ownership since the early 1980s
• 'As last raced' condition

The ultra-rare factory machine offered here was ridden to victory in the 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT by Texaco Heron Team Suzuki works rider John Williams. As such, it represents the final development of Suzuki XR11 Formula 750 racer (also known as the TR750). Initially dubbed the 'Flexy Flier' on account of its wayward handling, it was an XR11 that Barry Sheene was riding when he had that famous Daytona crash in 1975; though to be fair to the Suzuki, that was caused by a tyre failure rather than any inherent deficiency in the machine.

The XR11 had been developed from the GT750 roadster for the increasingly popular 750-class racing. The latter had first become established in the USA in 1969, progressing to the FIM Formula 750 Championship in 1973 and finally the Formula 750 World Championship in 1977 as the class's stature grew. For its 750 racer, Suzuki up-rated the GT750 engine with different cylinders, a dry clutch and magnesium castings; they also developed an entirely new lightweight frame, and it was this that would prove the XR11's Achilles Heel. Made from tubing that was too small in diameter, it flexed under power, hence that famous sobriquet.

Maximum power was raised from an initial 100bhp in 1972 to 116bhp for 1975 in the XR11's final incarnation. By this time the frame had undergone several revisions to strengthen it, and for 1975 the chassis was further updated with an XR14 (RG500) swinging arm and lay-down shock absorbers. At last the XR's handling was no longer a handicap, as evidenced by John Williams' Isle of Man TT victory in '76 (you don't win in the Island on a motorcycle that doesn't handle well). Indeed, John had made history in the Senior race by setting the first 110mph lap of the Mountain Circuit and repeated that feat on board his XR11 in the Classic race.

Born in 1946, John Williams made his racing debut in 1964 and progressed through club racing ranks to make his Isle of Man debut in the Manx Grand Prix in 1966. Williams swiftly established a reputation as a public roads specialist, securing his first IoM win in the 1971 500 Production TT. John would go on to win a further three TTs and score nine podium finishes. He was sponsored by Tom Arter and then Gerald Brown before signing for Texaco Heron Team Suzuki for 1976, joining Barry Sheene and John Newbold.

Neither Williams nor Newbold enjoyed parity of equipment with Sheene, who kept all three of the latest factory XR14 bikes for himself, so it would have surprised few when both men left at the end of 1976. Out of the five Grands Prix he contested in an injury plagued season, Williams finished on three occasions, the highlight being victory in the Belgian round at Spa. He had also contested the FIM 750 Championship that year aboard the XR11 (assumed to be this machine) with disappointing results (13th in Holland and 7th in Germany), though 5th place in the MCN Superbike Championship was some consolation. Continuing his career with Appleby Glade sponsorship, John Williams enjoyed considerable success as a privateer and had just won the 500cc race at the 1978 Ulster Grand Prix when he crashed in the 1,000cc race, dying in hospital of complications later that day.

Records show that the machine offered here is a 1975 model, first used by the Suzuki works team in the USA, which was dispatched to the UK at the end of the '75 season together with the team's equipment when it pulled out of racing. Suzuki's American works riders for 1975 had been Dave Aldana and Pat Hennen. According to former Texaco Heron Team Suzuki Grand Prix technicians Nigel Everett (letter on file) and Martyn Ogborne, 'GT750-62865' (the last of the frame number sequence) was assigned to works rider Percy Tait in 1976 for use in Formula 750 events before being allocated to John Williams halfway through the season.

Texaco Heron Team Suzuki did not campaign the XR11s after 1976 and the bikes were disposed of, this example being sold to Percy Tait on 4th November '76 (the Percy Tait Racing stickers are still on the fairing). By this time Percy had retired from racing (following a serious accident in the Isle of Man Production TT in 1976) and become a Suzuki dealer. It is not known whether or not Percy sponsored another rider on the XR11.

The current vendor, a motorcycle racing enthusiast with an important private collection, saw this XR11 advertised in MCN in the early 1980s purchased it from the owner, a garage proprietor in Leominster. The Suzuki has been kept as part of his collection since then and is presented in wonderful 'as last raced' condition. Ex-factory machines of this pedigree - original and unmolested - rarely come to the market, making this ultra-rare and historic TT-winning XR11 of exceptional interest to collectors.

Footnotes

  • As with all Lots in the Sale, this Lot is sold 'as is/where is' and Bidders must satisfy themselves as to the provenance, condition, age, completeness and originality prior to bidding.

Saleroom notices

  • Since the sale catalogue went to press we have been advised of the existence of another Suzuki TR750 identified as the ex-John Williams 1976 Classic TT-winning machine. The factory records are occasionally vague or noncommittal, merely stating in the case of '62865', the machine in the sale, that it was made available to Williams for use at the TT. Unfortunately, they do not state which machine he used in the actual race. What is not in dispute is the fact that '62865' was issued to Percy Tait at the start of the 1976 season, with one (non-factory) source stating that it had been used by Barry Sheene in the USA in 1975. Again, the factory records do not state which races '62865' was used for or by whom. Given that various mechanics and other Team Suzuki staff are still alive, it should not prove impossible to unravel the competition record of this important Suzuki racing motorcycle, which, interestingly, is one of the very few XR11s equipped with a six-speed gearbox. Riders of the works Suzuki TR750 XR11s during 1975/1976 period include the following: Barry Sheene Dave Aldana Pat Hennen Stan Woods John Newbold Percy Tait Tepi Lansivuori John Williams
Contacts
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
Ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki; Percy Tait; John Williams; 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT-winning,1975 Suzuki 750cc XR11 Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. GT750-62865 and 2859
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