Masterminded by Alf Hubbard, owner of Worthing’s Solus Kawasaki dealer, Alf’s Motorcycles, the team has secured the services of one of Ireland’s most successful road racers of recent history, Ryan Farquhar.
As the current holder of the Duke Road Race Ranking trophy, Dungannon born Farquhar is obsessed with the demanding TT course. He is already riding high this season on the back of multiple successes in Superbike, Supersport and mini-twin racing exclusively on Kawasaki machinery.
For the assault on the 37 ¾ mile TT course, the team at Alf’s Motorcycles has created a special Ninja ZX-10R for the 33 year old Irishman drawing on their vast experience in World Endurance racing.
Working initially with Italian bikes and now with Kawasaki machinery, the Alf’s Motorcycles Endurance team has successfully pitted themselves against far bigger and better funded racing teams; and stolen the limelight on many occasions through sheer skill, ingenuity, determination and guile, as Alf Hubbard explains.
“We cut our Endurance racing teeth competing in UK Club and National series before moving onto the World stage about 10 years ago. With machines being asked to last at racing speed for 24 hours, we felt our approach to building a race bike would transfer well to the demands of the TT course”.
With preparations beginning many months ago, the team called on all their considerable experience as well as that willingly given by such Kawasaki specialists as Nick Morgan, Team Principle of MSS Colchester Kawasaki - the official Kawasaki Motors Superbike team.
“The lads already have the basics sorted,” comments Morgan. “They know that careful assembly, and an eye to how arduous the event will be, is the key to getting to the end of a multi-lap race on the Island. The trick is to marry this need for the bike to last with as much performance as possible without sacrificing reliability. It’s OK to have over 200 horsepower for a short race but if that means the motor is peaky then it will not suit the slower parts of the TT course or sections where you need to feed the power in gradually”.
“It’s often said that many races are lost, not by a £1000 component but by a 50 pence one and it’s very true. That’s why the guys at Alf’s have got every electrical connection and tiny screw checked and rechecked in preparation for the first practice and the chance for Ryan to have a shakedown ride to give feedback.”
Swinging his leg over the completed bike for the first time on the Island, Farquhar will see that many endurance racing touches have been incorporated into the machine. Quick release wheels, special in-line brake hose connectors and a hand fabricated, braced swinging arm all count towards seconds saved at fuelling stops and, hopefully, places maintained or gained on the leader board”.
With Ryan’s own suspension components fitted to the bike, plus adjustable front fork yokes and the special swinging arm, the bike has not been built to be feather light and fragile but rather rugged and robust, just like Farquhar.
“It’s been a great year so far”, comments Farquhar. “Apart from the weather spoiling the North West 200 for me, the preparations have been just about spot on. I’m feeling good about my riding. All the race wins I have amassed so far in 2009 are acting like markers along the way to the start line at the TT Grandstand. I am still being cast as a bit of an underdog, and that idea appeals to me.”
“All my bikes, the ZX-10R, the ZX-6R and the ER-6n started out on a Kawasaki showroom floor and have been converted into racers. For me that is important. It keeps to the spirit of what I think road racing should be, and maintains the special feeling that the TT gives you. It’s a place where guys like me can make a real difference in the face of full factory race team efforts. I hope the fans will cheer me and the Alf’s Motorcycles Ninja ZX-10R to success in the Superbike and Senior TT events.”