Yamaha takes third consecutive manufacture's title
Lawson takes his third championship title, Magee and Rainey win their first GP victories
In the 15-round 1988 series, Eddie Lawson held off his rival Wayne Gardner (Honda) to win his third world championship. Yamaha also claimed its third consecutive manufacturer's title.
Kevin Schwantz (Suzuki) won the season opener in Japan while Lawson finished in 3rd. The second round was held in the US, the first race there since 1965. Lawson took the lead on the Laguna Seca track mid-race and ran on to victory to put himself on top in the championship ranking. From this point on he won six races and took four 2nd place finishes up to round 13 to lead the championship. At the end of round 14 in Czechoslovakia, Lawson had a 20-point lead over 2nd-ranked Gardner with two races remaining. When the following race in Argentina was cancelled, Lawson's rider's title and Yamaha's manufacturer's title were clinched at that point. Even if Gardner managed to tie Lawson in championship points by winning the final race, while Lawson no-pointed, the title would have gone to Lawson nevertheless, because of his lead in number of wins. Although his championship was confirmed, Lawson took charge in the final race in Brazil, passing Schwantz early in the race and going on too score his seventh win of the season.
Kevin Magee and Wayne Rainey's performances also attracted attention. In the third round in Spain, Magee started from pole position and passed Lawson mid-race to take the lead. Their fierce battle continued to the very last lap. Backmarkers played to the advantage of Magee as he took his first-ever GP win. Rainey, on the other hand, showed his strength by finishing on the podium four races in a row from the fourth round in Portugal. Rainey had been in good form winning a pole-to-finish victory at the Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Road Race two weeks before this Portugal round.
Garriga finishes 2nd in the ranking
Juan Garriga finished 2nd in the championship ranking after winning three races this season. The podiums were dominated by Honda riders in the first two rounds, but Garriga was able to break that streak by finishing 2nd in the following race in Spain, which was his home race. In the fourth round in Portugal, he took his first GP win from pole position and moved up to second in the ranking, only a single point behind the championship leader, Sito Pons. Garriga finished the following three races in third. Then in the Netherlands, he took his second win of the season and climbed to the top of the championship rankings. In the ninth round in Belgium, he took the lead in lap three, but the race was red flagged in the following lap due to a multiple-machine crash. Garriga lost his pace after the restart and finished 6th. As a result, his ranking dropped to 2nd, again a one-point behind the leader. The championship battle between Garriga and Pons intensified from that point onwards. Before the final race in Brazil there was only a four-point difference between the two riders. Garriga dropped back to 30tth position after trying to avoid a collision, but he made a remarkable recovery and finished the race in 5th. Pons, on the other hand, finished 3rd and was able to clinch the championship title. In his second year competing on a YZR250, Luca Cadalora finished 6th overall, with notable performances in West Germany, where he held off Pons to take his first-ever GP250 victory, and a win in the twelfth round in Great Britain.
Cate. Rider Machine 500cc Eddie Lawson YZR500(0W98) 500cc Didier De Radigues YZR500(0W98) 500cc Kevin Magee YZR500(0W98) 500cc Wayne Rainey YZR500(0W98) 500cc Christian Sarron YZR500(0W98) 500cc Patrik Igoa YZR500(0W98) 500cc Tadahiko Taira YZR500(0W98) 250cc Luca Cadalora YZR250 250cc Carlos Lavado YZR250 250cc Juan Garriga YZR250
Pos. Cate. Rider Constructor Point 1 500cc E. Lawson Yamaha 252 2 500cc W. Gardner Honda 229 3 500cc W. Rainey Yamaha 189 4 500cc C. Sarron Yamaha 149 5 500cc K. Magee Yamaha 138 6 500cc N. MacKenzie Honda 125 7 500cc D.De. Radigues Yamaha 120 14 500cc P. Igoa Yamaha 44 15 500cc T. Taira Yamaha 36 28 500cc N. Fujiwara Yamaha 4 Pos. Cate. Rider Constructor Point 1 250cc A. Pons Honda 231 2 250cc J. Garriga Yamaha 221 3 250cc J. Cornu Honda 166 4 250cc D. Sarron Honda 158 5 250cc R. Roth Honda 158 6 250cc L. Cadalora Yamaha 136 7 250cc J.P. Ruggia Yamaha 104 11 250cc C. Lavado Yamaha 55
Pos. Constructor Point 1 Yamaha 280 2 Honda 242 3 Suzuki 157 4 Elf-Honda 68 5 Cagiva 65 6 Fior 8 Pos. Constructor Point 1 Honda 285 2 Yamaha 246 3 Aprilia 128 4 EMC 47 5 Defi 10 6 Gazzaniga 9