The ‘Hailwood’ breaks cover
This year’s Isle of Man TT will mark 40 years since Mike Hailwood’s legendary comeback victory in the 1978 TT, and to mark the milestone, Nannup, WA-based Vee Two Australia, the world’s leading specialist in bevel-drive Ducati engines, is producing 12 exact replicas of Hailwood’s Ducati 900 TT F1 race bike, the production run number commemorating Hailwood’s victorious #12 TT racing number.
Vee Two Australia has secured the original technical drawings for the Ducati’s 883cc 90-degree V-twin bevel-drive desmo engine, as well the casting moulds, chassis drawings and technical details.
“The engine used in Mike’s 900 F1 race-winning bike was a prototype engine designed by the Ducati factory in the mid to late ‘70s, of which only around eight units were ever made,” Andrew Cathcart, General Manager of Vee Two explains. “When Mike won the TT in ’78 the factory had plans for the engine to power the next series of desmo V-twin sportsbikes, but due to Ducati’s struggling financial situation, the bevel-drive format was scrapped in favour of the Pantah-type belt-drive V-Twin, which was less costly to manufacture. Picking up from where the factory left off, Vee Two Australia is now in a position to offer the engine that powered Hailwood to his legendary victory.” While the engine will be produced in-house by Vee Two, the chassis is being built in Europe, again using the original drawings for the race-winning bike’s tubular steel frame. The bodywork will also be an exact replica of Hailwood’s TT-winning machine, right down to the famous Castrol and Sports Motorcycles stickers on the red and green paintwork. Externally, Vee Two’s Ritorno (meaning ‘comeback’ in Italian) engine is an exact copy of the 883cc 90-degree bevel-drive desmo V-twin that carried Hailwood to his 1978 race victory. Internally, though, the motor will host a full complement of Vee Two’s upgrades, meaning power output will be much higher than the original engine. “We aim to produce an exact replica of the bike as it crossed the finishing line,” says Brook Henry, Vee Two’s CEO. Although Vee Two has already bestowed the Ritorno moniker upon the engine, Andrew Cathcart says the Vee Two-built Replica TT racer hasn’t yet been officially named. “Mike Hailwood Replica is something of an over-used title,” he admits. “Internally we’re just calling it “The Hailwood”, though we’ll settle on a name soon. The as-yet undisclosed price of such exclusivity, that’s set to be revealed at the bike’s debut in June on the Isle of Man, is understood to be in the region of £100,000 or US$140,000.
Mike Hailwood gets his TT Ducati under way for a practice session at the 1978 TT.
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