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One day in June

This is Pat Slinn, watched by a very happy Steve Wynne, removing the carburettors on Mike Hailwood’s TT winning Ducati after various protests from a very miffed Honda. There is a huge amount of misinformation about the Ducati Mike raced in 1978, some of down to Steve’s PR genius. In May 1978, in a piece covering several pages of the UK’s best selling motorcycle magazine Motorcycle Mechanics, readers were invited to drool over the motorcycle Steve was building from a stock 900SS for Mike’s return to the Island. The story was quickly picked up elsewhere, helping Steve to sell more Ducatis than any other dealer from his Manchester showrooms. He was happy to put the record straight when the emails pinged back and forth between us as I researched my book, Ducati and the TT, and it was clear he has little time for journalists. So he is probably happy to let the story be repeated, perhaps laughing at writers unquestioningly retelling old stories. In truth the bike Steve had on show was Roger Nicholls’ 1977 bike being prepared for Eddie Roberts to race in the 1978 TT. Meanwhile in the Ducati factory three “NCR” 900F1s were being built around frames from aeronautical suppliers Daspa. Two were for Steve Wynne, and one for Jim Scaysbrook. Pat Slinn visited the factory at the time, then service manager for Coburn and Hughes, the UK Ducati importers, whom Steve had ordered the bikes from. “It was noticeable how much extra care Pedretti and Farnè lavished on Mike’ bike” Pat remembers. “Extra care on where things were fitted, where cables ran. That sort of thing. And the left foot gear change mechanism was a work of art. Farnè had really admired Mike since the days of the 250 and 350 parallel twins. He knew Mike was special.” Indeed. Mike’s was the only one of the four Ducatis mentioned here to finish the race, Mike famously very gentle on machinery. The full story is in Benzina 15.

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