Up against the formidable resources of the Honda team and its talented riders, Eddie Lawson must have had doubts at the start of 1984 about his ability to become World Champion.
Could he possibly equal and even better 'Fast' Freddie Spencer? Did the works V4 Yamaha have any edge on the Hondas? What threat would Randy Mamola pose? Above all, how would he cope with the massed ranks of Hondas when they pitched in the full team effort against the single Yamaha?
The Honda proved to be fast from the first race in South Africa, but Spencer's hope spectacularly spun away as his rear wheel collapsed in the closing moments of qualifying, tearing ligaments in his right ankle in the process. Lawson took advantage on the new twin-spar framed Yamaha OW76 reed-valve 500, riding to victory in the rain and his subsequent four wins and four second places were enough secure his first 500cc world championship. Mamola was never far off the pace though, having taken the other 3 podium positions of the season and finishing second overall, 31 points behind Lawson. Frenchman Raymond Roche (Honda) still managed to take third place in the championship without winning a race, 12 points clear of a relegated Spencer, who had even ditched his V4 in favour of the established V3 in a last attempt to regain his title. Haslam (Honda) and Sheene (Suzuki) stood shoulder-to-shoulder in fifth and sixth position.