Franco Uncini's 1982 MotoGP World Championship-winning Suzuki 500 XR40 – Click above for a high-res image gallery
With the global economy in shambles, classic car collectors have been looking to something more affordable: namely, motorcycles. That's why, for example, Pebble Beach is opening up its concours to two-wheelers for the first time this year. Unfortunately for racing enthusiasts, championship-winning steeds seldom pop up for grabs. The factories and riders themselves tend to hang onto them. But here's one notable exception: the Suzuki 500 XR40 with which legendary rider Franco Uncini won the 1982 MotoGP World Championship.
Uncini's racing career was characterized by a checkered past filled with checkered flags. The Italian rider competed for Ducati, Harley-Davidson and Yamaha before finally filling the saddle at Suzuki,with which he won his first and only world title in 1982, the last Italian to win the MotoGP championship until Valentino Rossi began his reign in 2001. A devastating crash the following year put Uncini into a coma and ended his career in 1985. Today he acts as a safety representative for the series, riding around in that hot new BMW X6 M pace car we reported on earlier. He'll be on hand personally to supervise the auction of his championship-winning ride on May 18 when it goes under the hammer at the COYS auction in Monte Carlo together with 15 other historically-significant motorbikes. Uncini's bike is expected to fetch as much as €350,000, or nearly half a million dollars. Click on the thumbnails below to view the machine in high resolution.