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OLD DOG, NEW TRICKS

Ten Kate Honda has been Kate Honda has been campaigning the ageing Fireblade for eight seasons, begging the question – how?

When you stop to think about it, it's incredibile how Ten Kate manages to keep the Honda Fireblade near the front of the WSB pack, year after year. In fact, last season was the first season in years where they didn't win a race. From Chris Vermeulen, James Toseland, Ryuichi Kiyonari, Carlos Checa and Jonathan Rea, they've always had wins on their bikes - even when the odds are stacked well and truly against them.

They're also probably the most mislabelled team in world racing, with the word 'factory' being irritatingly applied to them time and again. Yes, they get support from the Big H, but the fact remains they are actually a proper privateer squad and do nearly all of the work and development of their race bikes themselves. Much like the UK's Crescent outfit, Ten Kate's background is as a dealership, their core business, but without the level of manufacturer support Paul Denning's squad now enjoys. It just makes Ten Kate's achievements ali the more impressive, and they are stili the only privateer team to win WSB, as they did with Toseland in 2007.

Right now, here in 2016, a brand new Fireblade replacement continues to elude them. However, their bike is probably more competitive this season than it has been for a fair few. All of that comes from damned hard work, from right at the bottom of the team all the way to the top. A big part of the Ten Kate Massive's success comes from the pinnacle of their hierarchy, Mr Ronald Ten Kate. So, we sat down with Ronald at Motorland Aragon, to discuss all things Fireblade, Honda and their new superstar, Mr Nicky Hayden.

So then, Ronald, just how on earth are you making the Honda this good as it rapidly approaches its tenth birthday?

Mark van der Mark has breathed new life into the aging Fireblade...
PICS : KEL EDGE, HONDA

"The results this year just show you how good the base bike is, I believe," said Ronald, "but with development, you know, sometimes you try ten things and are lucky when Ave seem positive. If you're really lucky, three of them will bring an advance. This season we were extremely lucky as seven or eight, for whatever reason, of the ten things we brought were ali working, and at least seven were bringing time. So we were just hitting nails, bang, bang, bang."

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