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Moving Ten Kate

4 May 2005

It's a logistical headache of almost military proportions, but keeping a 45-strong world championship motorcycle racing team on the march is a task that has to be completed in order to maximise the team's chances of success.

As the World Superbike and World Supersport championships arrived in Europe after the two opening 'flyaway' rounds in Qatar and Australia, Winston Ten Kate Honda geared up to move the logistics and team hospitality onto higher level.

For the 2005 season, the team is contesting both championships with four pilots and the required mechanics, data loggers, tyre and suspension technicians. And with Winston as the team's new title partner, that means an increased number of guests at each round, too.

The task of keeping the team fed, watered and comfortable during each of the 10 European rounds of the championships falls principally to a small group of three people – Henk and Janny Muggen and Frits van Erven.

Husband and wife team, Henk and Janny, joined the Ten Kate team five years ago, along with their daughter, Monique, who now acts as team co-ordinator. Frits, the team's chef, joined around the same time after his son Danny - chief technician to Superbike rider Karl Muggeridge - asked him to come and help out with some cooking at the Assen round in 2000.

“It was a very busy home round for the team so I went along in my Sunday best,” admits Frits, who first learned to cook during a 30-year career with the Dutch navy, “but within half an hour I was peeling potatoes and I've been here ever since!”

Before each event, Frits prepares menus and hands a shopping list to Henk and Janny. “We normally spend around €4000 before we leave, shopping for everything except fresh food,” says Janny. “Then we do a local shop when we reach the circuit.”

The hospitality truck, driven by Henk, sets off the weekend before the race and, in the case of the recent Valencia round, the 2,000km trek takes around two and a half days. “I'm the only driver,” he says, “so I have to stop every four hours for a 45-minute rest. The other two team trucks get there faster but they each have two drivers!”

Henk is a qualified truck driving instructor, however, and is currently teaching three other team members to drive the 12m units, each of which holds 900 litres of fuel – good for 2,000km. But with 25,000km to be covered during the European season and three trucks to fill more than 10 times over, the team's annual fuel bill is certainly significant.

Before entering the world of motorcycle racing hospitality, Henk and Janny ran an electrical shop in the north of Holland so Henk applies himself to the technical aspects of setting up the Winston Ten Kate Honda hospitality unit.

The team lends a hand in erecting the substantial awning that surrounds the truck and seats up to 80 team members and guests. Then Frits gets to work.

“I basically spend all day preparing the next meal,” he says, “starting at about 7.00am with breakfast. And because the team likes to eat a lot of salad, there is a lot of chopping and peeling and slicing – and it's all done by hand!”

Frits cooks three meals on each of the five days of an event for the team's 45 members – a total of 675 meals for each championship round. And that's before any guests are considered, a list of whom is provided by Monique Muggen prior to each event.

The guests are looked after by Monique's mother, Janny, who is more than the team's hostess. “We call her Mama-san,” says team manager Ronald ten Kate, “after our rider Fabien Foret used it for the first time after coming back from Japan in 2002.”

“Janny fills a very important role in our team and the family atmosphere is vitally important to our success,” he continues. But Ronald values equally the roles played by the other members of the hospitality team.

“When we decided to introduce hospitality to our racing activities a few years ago,” he adds, “we knew that the most important aspect was the quality of the people running it. We certainly found the right team with Frits, Henk and Janny; and with Monique as part of their family already, it's a good base to start from.

“The whole team sleeps in the paddock,” he concludes, “so the hospitality unit is really like our own living room at home. It's a great place to relax after an often hectic day in the pit box and we hope we recreate that homely atmosphere for our guests, too.”


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