2004 saw the introduction of the Ten Kate Honda World Superbike effort headed up by Chris Vermeulen. He started the season struggling to keep up with the V-twin Ducati's and ended it challenging them for the title.
The Ten Kate team, famed for producing the fastest 600 machines in WSS for the past two years running, developed the Fireblade in-house as the season run its course, going from strength to strength at each round. However Gerrit Ten Kate, the team boss, exclusively told Crash.net
that even at the seasons finale the Fireblade still had a great deal to give.
“I think the way the bike in the end was only 80-85%,” he said. “In the first race (next year) the bike will be 90-95% and during the season we will build it up the way we like to have it.”
In order to find the best from the bike and give the team the best chance of taking the Superbike championship, Ten Kate have moved its 2004 WSS champion Karl Muggeridge up to the premier class to ride along side Chris Vermeulen.
“There are so many things to test and develop we need another rider to do all this testing,” continued Gerrit. “We have so many ideas for over the winter.”
However Ten Kate may not have it all its own way with the 2005 season being hailed the year of the four cylinder machines, like 2004 was for British Superbikes, Ducati especially look set for a tough season.
“I think next year is going to be a hard year for Ducati,” explained Gerrit. “This year they were already sweating with us. With Suzuki and Yamaha coming back it will be getting a lot harder as well for us. I think with the performance we will get over the winter we can hopefully be there again and I think it will be very, very nice races!”
The full interview with Gerrit Ten Kate is available on the Crash.net