Essenza – The Essence of Motorcycles is a 1/8 of a mile race developed this year with two runnings in Europe. One on the 3rd of September at Glemseck 101 in Leonberg, and the other on the 8th of October at INTERMOT in Cologne.

Just 16 motorcycles are permitted to enter, 11 of these spaces are reserved for major manufacturers – Ducati, Triumph, BMW etc. The other 5 spots are open to independent custom garages – the only restrictions are that the final bike must have an engine no larger than 1200cc, no more than two cylinders, and it can’t be a dragster.

When the team at Moto Essence were personally invited to take part they shelved plans to enter a different category with a modified Honda CB550, and sat down to develop plans for a bike that would be different to everything else – and still capable of winning.

They decided to build a two-stroke custom using a Yamaha RD350 YPVS engine, and an old racing frame by an Italian engineer called Parenti. The frame was an original, and it had decades of race use under its belt, so the first order of business was getting it straightened out and ready to hit the asphalt again. Once this was done a Yamaha YPVS engine was sourced and rebuilt up, before being installed into its new frame, with a bespoke exhaust system, a new radiator, and new Keihin carburettors.

The 347cc parallel twin Yamaha RD350 YPVS engine was a further development of the RD350 and the RD350LC.

When it was launched in Germany in 1983 it was billed as “the nearest thing to a road going racer ever produced”, although I’m sure a fair few Italian and British motorcycle marques would have a word or two to say about that.

As anyone who’s ever ridden a two-stroke can tell you, once you hit the narrow powerband it can be difficult to keep the front tire down. This makes a high-performing YPVS an ideal candidate for a 1/8 of a mile race – so long as the rider has a sensitive wrist and balls of steel.

The process of getting the bike ready, and getting the engine dialled in, was tumultuous. The team at Moto Essence worked around the clock and very nearly didn’t make it to Glemseck 101 – but somehow they pulled through and made the start line. An incorrect oil choice meant that the clutch slipped like mad, but they still managed to finish just behind the Ducati – and the little Yamaha is so loud it won’t be forgotten by those in attendance anytime soon.

If you’d like to see more from Moto Essence you can click here to visit their official website.