Remember the bevel-drive desmo Ducati on which Mike Hailwood made his amazing comeback in 1978? After 11 years away from racing, Hailwood returned the Isle of Man aboard the 900 V-twin and took top honours in the Formula One TT. Hailwood made history and the Ducati MHR became seriously sought after. Last weekend, a brand-new Hailwood replica was unveiled at the Isle of Man, celebrating Mike’s wonderful win four decades ago…
Endorsed by the Hailwood foundation, these new, limited edition machines are highly-detailed replicas of the bike which Hailwood rode to take his final world championship and his 13th TT victory. Just 12 of the hand-made Vee Two Hailwood bikes will be built, mirroring the race number Mike’s bike wore in his celebrated 1978 TT win, 40 years ago. The £110,000 machine has been 18 months in the making; a joint project between Brook Henry and Paul Taylor of Vee Two USA, which specialises in Ducati tuning parts and accessories.
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The Hailwood Vee Two is powered by the all-new ‘Ritorno’ 905cc bevel-drive desmo V-twin engine which Brook Henry builds in Australia. The bikes are then completed at Taylormade Racing’s base in Los Angeles. Mike’s original bike was powered by a factory prototype bevel-drive engine that was never put into production. Brook Henry acquired the original casting patterns, factory drawings and manufacturing rights to build this engine design once more.
He said: ‘It has always been my dream to build this bike, but it has not been possible without Ritorno. I have worked hard to make it identical externally to the 1978 engine, but it is thoroughly-modern inside, with the latest technology and materials giving 89bhp performance.’
The Ritorno motor features 58 degree valve angle heads, Nikasil chrome coated one-piece cylinders, strengthened crankcases, dry clutch, plain big-end bearing and one-piece crankshafts, components which can all be used to upgrade existing bevel engines. Complete Vee Two Ritorno engines are also available for customers who wish to build specials or give a new heartbeat to their old bevel.
Paul Taylor said: ‘The look of the bike is exactly as raced on June 3rd, 1978 – a true Hailwood replica, but it has been very difficult to get to this stage because of the lack of detailed information.’
The Vee Two team was given exclusive access to the genuine bike, owned by New Yorker Lawrence Auriana, although the real machine has detail differences to the Vee Two replica because of racing accidents and rebuilds after the 1978 TT.
Paul Taylor said: ‘We are very proud of what we have achieved, but the bike is a prototype and no doubt there are some details to improve before we are satisfied that it is the most exact replica we can make.’
Vee Two is the largest Ducati Bevel engine parts manufacture in the world today. It is a world leader in aftermarket desmo cam design and production. They are also the only company in the world to commercially produce desmo cams of different profiles to original factory camshafts.
Paul Taylor said: ‘The Vee Two Hailwood reflects the fact that Vee Two USA will be very similar to the Bologna NCR race workshop which built Mike’s 1978 bike in conjunction with the Ducati factory. Brook and I have worked together in the past, but we think our different skills offer some excellent opportunities for a future together.’
Just a dozen people will be able to own a Vee Two Hailwood – and they’ll receive a limited-edition souvenir illustrated book which details the creation of the Vee Two Hailwood and celebrates Mike’s epic 1978 victory. Mind you, the owner will also have the bike itself to look at… so we’re guessing that the book won’t get too much attention!
Vee Two Hailwood Specification
Engine: Air-cooled Ritorno sohc desmodromic 90-degree V-twin four-stroke, with two valves per cylinder and bevel gear camshaft drive
Dimensions: 88 x 74.4mm
Power: 89bhp at 8500rpm
Pistons: Pistal Italy Forged Bridged Slipper type.
Carburation: 2 x 40mm Dell’Orto PHM
Ignition: 12V point / condenser
Gearbox: Vee Two 5-speed close ratio
Clutch: Vee Two Dry multi-plate
Front suspension: 38mm Marzocchi telescopic forks
Rear suspension: Girling ‘Black’ gas shocks
Weight: 163kg with oil, without fuel
Front brake: 2 x 280mm Brembo cast-iron discs with 16mm two-piston Brembo calipers
Rear brake Single 280mm Brembo cast iron disc with 16mm two-piston Brembo caliper
Wheels: Campagnolo by Marvic
Top speed: 158mph
Further details: Veetwo.com
Words by Alan Cathcart
Photos by Harry Holzke
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