REPLI­CAS TO CEL­E­BRATE HAIL­WOOD COME­BACK

Motorcycle Sport & Leisure - - Top Stories - WORDS: Alan Cath­cart PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: AC Ar­chives

Aus­tralian com­pany to pro­duce 12 Mike Hail­wood 1978 come­back Du­cati repli­cas.

This year’s Isle of Man TT will mark 40 years since Mike Hail­wood’s leg­endary come­back vic­tory in the 1978 TT, fol­low­ing an 11-year break from rac­ing there while he pur­sued a car rac­ing ca­reer in For­mula 1. And to mark the mile­stone, Vee Two Aus­tralia, based in Nan­nup, West­ern Aus­tralia, the world’s lead­ing spe­cial­ist in bevel-drive Du­cati en­gines, is pro­duc­ing 12 ex­act repli­cas of Mike the Bike’s vic­to­ri­ous Du­cati 900 TT F1 race bike, the pro­duc­tion run quan­tity com­mem­o­rat­ing Hail­wood’s vic­to­ri­ous #12 TT rac­ing num­ber.

Vee Two Aus­tralia has se­cured the orig­i­nal tech­ni­cal draw­ings for the Du­cati’s 883cc 90° V-twin bevel-drive desmo en­gine, as well as the rel­e­vant cast­ing moulds, chas­sis draw­ings and tech­ni­cal de­tails – all of which will en­sure the bike is an ex­act replica of the one that pow­ered Hail­wood to his his­toric win.

“The en­gine used in Mike’s 900 F1 race-win­ning bike was a pro­to­type mo­tor de­signed by the Du­cati fac­tory in the mid to late 1970s, of which only around eight units were ever made,” An­drew Cath­cart, gen­eral man­ager of Vee Two ex­plained. “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. This meant that this ul­ti­mate bevel-drive en­gine never reached pro­duc­tion, and there­fore never made it into the hands of the pub­lic. 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 Italy, 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. John Keogh, the Bri­tish de­signer be­hind a num­ber of other Vee Two cre­ations, is re­spon­si­ble for the ac­cu­rate clay mod­el­ling that will form the ba­sis of the replica’s body­work.

Hail­wood at Brad­dan Bridge in vic­to­ri­ous 1978 TT ride.

Brook Henry, Vee Two’s chief ex­ec­u­tive and An­drew Cath­cart, gen­eral man­ager.

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