Arguably the greatest global production-based racing success of recent years has been enjoyed by the Ten Kate Honda team, as they propelled first Fabien Foret and then Chris Vermeulen to World Supersport Championship wins, in 2002 and 2003 respectively, before successfully branching out to the World Superbike series this season.

The Ten Kate Racing Team itself, owned by Gerrit Ten Kate (left on top pic) and managed by his cousin Ronald Ten Kate (right on top pic), is actually only one aspect of one of the total Ten Kate operations, which also include the tuning business and the family motorcycle/cycle shop - income from which has supported the ever burgeoning racing team since its inception way back in 1993.

Gerrit and Ronald Ten Kate are the cornerstones of the racing effort, and very different personalities, as Gerrit explained: "I think our abilities are different but they complement each other. I am more technical and Ronald is more on the organisation and personnel side."

Whatever their differing characters, the guys have been busy recently. After some humble beginnings in rural Holland, the Ten Kate Honda racing effort is now a fulsome yellow-bedecked three rider, two-tier, WSS and WSBK system.

Karl Muggeridge and Broc Parkes are the current assets in World Supersport and reigning World Supersport Champion Chris Vermeulen is the lone Fireblade runner in a new World Superbike adventure that has already yielded three race victories for the young Aussie.

Even the most cursory enquiries about how the success has come uncovers at least two of the reasons for the on-track competitiveness - off track sacrifice and a unified family approach to the business of winning.

"Ronald and I basically grew up in the same house in Holland," stated Gerrit. "We are actually cousins, not uncle and nephew, as many people think. Our family relationship makes it easier for us to communicate ideas to each other. Also it means that we can be more open if we disagree on something, be more forceful at any one time and then just move on after it is resolved."

Given that Ten Kate is now a well-known name in any motorcycle-racing sphere, Gerrit and Ronald were hardly born into a multinational dynasty of motorcycle powerbroker.

"I started out working on tractors and I have always been interested in big power outputs," said Gerrit the country boy, continuing about how he started out on small bikes and then worked on grass track, Motocross and long track engines.

His road racing involvement was piqued when he prepared an engine for an old friend who was struggling for speed. After the next meeting Gerrit received a phone call to say his engine had posted the best top speed at Hockenheim - fully ten kph faster then all the others. Not bad for what was almost a first attempt.

With the technical aspects taken care of by Gerrit, Ronald explained his part in the past and present of Ten Kate.

"My background is Motocross. I did this from my ninth to my 19th birthday. I had an accident and wasn't fast any more so I stopped racing. I was still a student, doing personnel and labour studies. My summer job in Holland was with Gerrit, helping in the shop.

"One day Gerrit started his race team and I raised my hand to be involved as a volunteer. That was when it all started, in the end of 1993. In the first year we were in the Dutch championship with Harry van Beek, just a one-rider team.

"The first two-rider team we had was our first year in Thunderbike with Ian Macpherson and a German guy Frank Eickner. There were no full timers in those days. We noticed Macpherson in World Thunderbike, and at the A-1 Ring race in 1996 we had our first big win."

The growth of Ten Kate since then has been impressive. "In Supersport we are a now a fully supported HRC team, but the individual tuning is left to the team. This is also the playing field for Honda to use as a base for the kit for next year. So it is all about sharing information and parts," stated Ronald.

Gerrit then explained some of the unique thinking that has helped him move to this stage in so few years, and without a big single sponsor or importer paying for it all.

"The amount of money we save by all sleeping in the trucks pays for one trailer at the end of that year!" he smiled. "We would pay crazy money if we all have to sleep in hotels at every race, every test, and every time away from the workshop. So we spend the money on the trucks and at the end of the year we can buy another truck - which is in itself an asset.

"It also makes us work better together, because at the end of the day there is not one guy heading off here to go to the bar, not one going to the restaurant, not one going somewhere else. If we all travel and stay together we can work better."

"I think we have a different mentality," added Ronald. "Gerrit started off as a true technical guy and he was always very passionate about winning. In terms of making a big presence, having a flash hospitality, he doesn't give a damn. He would be happy even if he only had a little caravan he would still enjoy his life here.

"For the future, of course we would like to grow bigger in terms of hospitality and so on, but only when the money is there to pay for it. First of all, we spend our money on the racing, finding the proper people to work for us, not on hospitality. Some other teams do it the other way around."

Sticking with Honda for so long has also helped. "Loyalty is rewarded by Honda of course," he said. "But I don't know in racing how much credit you get just for loyalty. I know Honda see us as serious and committed to them, not just a way to get bikes and parts and whatever. But more important to them are the results we have had over the years."

The current success with Vermeulen in World Superbike - which has propelled the Australian into title contention - also shows the ambition ingrained in Ten Kate's racing approach.

"At the beginning of the Superbike project we kept our true expectations to ourselves," stated Ronald. "We said to everyone, 'It's our first year, let's see how it goes, maybe we can have top fives halfway through the year.' But inside, for ourselves and the technical staff, our desire was to be on the rostrum from the first race on. We are not here to fill the grid. I can't stand losing... I really hate it. I am easy going but when we are losing my mind is off for two or three days. It upsets me."

Next up for the ever-ambitious Ten Kate Honda team? "Hopefully we will stay in World Supersport and Superbike and have two riders in Superbike next year," summarises Ronald. "Then we would like to have a Superstock team as well, to be present in all classes. We would like to be the dominant factor in production based racing throughout Europe."

With three rounds of the 2004 season remaining, Vermeulen is just 2-points from WSBK championship leader Regis Laconi heading into this weekend's Assen event, while Muggeridge leads the WSS series by 24-points over Jurgen van den Goorbergh.