|For 1976 Suzuki was develloping a four stroke road bike, the research for this bike was cutting hard in Suzuki's race budget, there was not enough money to run a race team. Suzuki's view on racing was to do it good or to do it not at all. Since they couldn't do it good with their down sized budget they announced their withdrawal.
In England Suzuki's withdrawal meant a nightmare, not only for Suzuki's and England's most populair man; Barry Sheene but also for GB's Heron Suzuki. Heron's Peter Agg came with a plan to keep Suzuki racing, he found financial support from Texaco and Heron to run the team. Agg flew to Hamamatsu and convinced the board of his plan; Heron would run the Grand Prix team and Suzuki Japan would supply the bikes and spare parts. The bikes would now run under the flag of "Texaco Heron Team Suzuki"
For 1976 the Heron drivers were; Barry Sheene, John Newbold and John Williams. Sheene wasn't that happy on having Williams in his team sine he knew that Williams was unlike Newbold able to beat him on the track, but Sheene didn't like it at al that Heron payed him less then Suzuki had done. Sheene thought about going to be an independent racer but when Heron boosted his fee he desided to stay.
For 1976 Suzuki mad quiet some changes to the engine compare to the 1975 version. The biggest change were the bore and stroke, now the "Square Four" engine was square, bore x stroke was 54mm x 54mm. The smaller bore made it less possible for the piston to seize and the bigger stroke mad it possible to make the ports higher . The cylinders now had seven ports (10 holes with bridged exhaust port and scavange port) . The engine delivered now a 114 bhp at 11.000 rpm
The frames did change also. The shocks on the swingarm moved forward and were now placed bofore the rear wheel axle instead of behind. Kayaba provided special pneumatic forks this and a revised frame improved the XR14's handling. Suzuki was ready to race for gold.
In 1976 the over-the-counter XR14's were also available, so it were not only the works drivers who were racing a XR14 but also a lot of privateers because the XR14 was the bike to have. The over-the-counter XR14 was really populair and so succesfull that the first thirteen drivers in the final rankings of 1976 had been racing a XR14 except from Giacomo Agostini who did race a XR14 and a MV-Augusta in 1976. Pat Hennen and Marco Lucchinelli finished 3rd & 4th on their over-the-counter XR14, and with his win in Finland Hennen was the first American to win a 500cc race, Hennen's win also showed the potential of the production XR14.
Sheene won 5 of the 10 world championship races in 1976, making him world champion. If it wasn't for Agositin's victory at the last G.P. of the year on his MV Augusta all victories would have been Suzuki RG500's.
For 1977 Newbold and Williams were replaced by Pat Hennen and 1976 Brittish champion Steve Parrish.
No big technical changes for 1977, the biggest change on the bike, that now delivered 119 bhp at 10,800 rpm, was the more aerodynamic fairing and a seat that protected the drivers more from the exhausts.
In 1977 Suzuki also introduced a new bike,a 652cc version of the RG500, the RG700 XR23. This was a big-bore RG500. The bike was using this bike only in the Brittish "open events" and was nothing more then a lab to find out how the frames will work with a more powerful engine. By racing and testing the XR23's Suzuki was allready one step ahead for the future, they new that the RG500 would become more powerful in the future and now they could develop the right frame for the future RG500's.
For 1977 Suzuki's only rivals were the new works Yamaha's in the hands of Steve Baker and Johnny Cecotto. Cecotto won two races and was the only non Suzuki rider to win a G.P. in 1977. Wil hartog was the only non works rider to win a (normal) G.P. in 1977, winning his home G.P. the Dutch TT he was showing the potential of the over-the-counter XR14 and leaving Sheene and Hennen 2nd and 3rd. Jack Findlay won the Austrian G.P. both this race was banned by all of the top riders, non of the riders who finished the season in the top 14 did compete in that race. Pat Hennen won the last race of the season
Sheene won 6 from the 11 world chapionship races and became world champion for the second time in a row.
The season ended with a Suzuki / Yamaha top 5 with Suzuki winning the constuctors championship again.
1st Barry Sheene
2nd Steve Baker
3rd Pat Hennen
4th Johnny Cecotto
5th Steve Parish
|Sheene "World Champion 1976"|
|Barry Sheene 1976|
|Pat Hennen & Marcel Ankone 1976|
|Marco Lucchinelli 1976|
|John Williams & Barry Sheene 1976|
|Pat Hennen 1977|
|Barry Sheene 1977||
Hartog Assen 1977