By any standards, 2013 was a tough year for the Ten Kate squad that runs Honda’s Pata-supported World Superbike and World Supersport championship teams.
But the Dutch outfit’s successful involvement in the championships for over 20 years – including nine world titles – demonstrates beyond doubt that Ten Kate has the expertise and experience needed to run a competitive race team for the world’s largest and most successful motorcycle manufacturer.
Motorcycles have always played a central role in the life of Dutch tuning expert and team owner Gerrit ten Kate. His passion for two-wheeled machinery began at the age of 12 and led to eight World Supersport titles between 2002 and 2010 – seven of which were consecutive – and one World Superbike title in 2007.
Following a motocross career, the hobby of his youth developed into a successful business. “I used to prepare everything myself which people began to take notice of,” he explains, “and soon I was selling 50 or 60 motocross bikes a year.”
Ten Kate switched focus from his own motocross ambitions to those of his cousin Ronald, now the manager of Ten Kate Racing, whom he guided to fourth place in the Dutch championship.
In 1993, ten Kate was introduced to road racing when he fixed the bike of a local wildcard rider for a European Superstock round. The bike appeared to be the fastest in the paddock. Ever since, ten Kate has increased his involvement in the sport and currently employs a team of more than 30 people to compete in the World Superbike and World Supersport competition and has developed a thorough understanding of racing motorcycles.
“Electronics is, of course, an important part of the sport now,” he says, “and our engine builders are stilllooking to increase the performance of the bikes. But there is a lot more to it than power and I would much rather have 5bhp less in a good chassis than 5bhp more that cannot be used. For that reason we were among the first to introduce data-logging, suspension and electronics specialists into the team to help us develop the whole package.”
The continuing support of Honda – together with a second year with title partner, Pata – for the 2014 season sees Gerrit ten Kate as enthusiastic as ever. Honda’s 2014 CBR1000RR Fireblade SP has been subject to a major development programme for this season; meanwhile the 2013 version of the CBR600RR proved itself with podium performances in last season’s World Supersport championship.
“I have been working with Honda for a long time now,” adds Gerrit, “and the latest CBRs are now even more the best race-ready production machines that Honda has ever made. This year our aim is, once again, to bring the technical and professional knowledge within our team to an even higher level and extend the connection with the team’s partners, media, and fans. The passion for this sport and the common goal we share is the driving force for our teamwork. Luckily, we have great partners, such as Pata, Tonello, Honda, Castrol, Termignoni and others who fully share our passion in this adrenalin-filled adventure”.