Exactly 10-years ago Jeff took Fabien Foret's Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR WSS bike for a spin around Portimao. Check out what he thought!.. Words: Jeff Ware Photography: Studio Zac.
The 127-race veteran of WSS, 2002 WSS World Champion Frenchman Fabien Foret, was a wild man on track, going on to have some hugely successful moments in WSS and WorldSBK. Jeff took his HannSpree Ten Kate CBR600RR for ride around the famous Portimao Circuit…
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We all know what a successful machine the Ten Kate CBR600RR was. With AP winning the World Championship in 2008, and Kenan Sofuoglu having an amazing few seasons on the bike. Things changed in 2009 when the team switched from Ohlins to Bitubo suspension and lost the plot somewhat mid way through the season.
However, a return to Ohlins from the Italian importer helped turn things around and in the 2011 season things got better with full support again from Ohlins. This allowed the legend of World Supersport, Fabien Foret, to finish third in the title despite a series of mistakes that doubtless lost the 2002 WSS Champion, who spends half of his time in Melbourne, a few races and possibly the second World Championship crown of his stellar career.
Being Andrew Pitt’s press officer for quite some years and having an inside insight into the Ten Kate team and the CBR600RR during Andrew’s 2008/2009 seasons meant I was more than a little keen to throw a leg over the bike that I had studied for literally every lap of every session in those two years. I wasn’t disappointed…
The CBR600RR was always a favourite of mine. Small, light, nimble and as a stock supersport bike, the CBR has a fantastic engine character that offers mid-range without top-end compromise. The machine won quite a few comparison tests I took part in over the years – until the 675 Triumph came and conquered all.
“On racetracks around the globe, the 2011 CBR600RR did well domestically and in WSS. However, it was getting old. But, like the R6, it just kept on winning.”
There really seems to be a development flop in supersport and until Triumph or Suzuki compete in WSS with their new models, it remained the R6, ZX-6R and CBR show for many years on these old models that had very little changes, even 10-years on, they are still the same!
All of those thoughts and more went out the door when I walked into the Ten Kate Honda garage and met the guys. The set-up was immaculate. Not a spec of dust anywhere. Number 99 CBR is sitting on stands, fuelled up but with totally shagged Pirellis on!
The bike was tiny. After riding the R6 and ZX-6R, with Davies’ and Parkes’ wide, flat bars and long distance from the footpegs to the seat. The Fabien Foret number 99 CBR was much more traditional – high rearsets, low ‘bars, pulled back more old school road racer style and the handlebars were also really narrow – around the same as the stock handlebars. The screen was low and tiny compared to the others and there was no way I was going to get my chin on the tank on the chute! I must have looked like a gorilla humping a tennis ball!
After a lap to familiarise myself with the bike and to get comfortable enough, I started to push more. The acceleration was really strong on the bike – not the same pull off the turns initially as the ZX-6R but once there is some momentum the CBR really hums. It has a fantastic top-end.
“My initial thoughts were how it would smoke my stock 2009 R1! “
The engine was stunning, however, initial throttle opening from a closed throttle was horrendous – really, really snappy and not at all smooth like the others. I found I had to really load the rear brake during throttle opening to dampen the impacts. Off the slower corners, the snatchy throttle would cause the rear of the bike to become unstable and then in turn it would start to pump off the corners. It didn’t help that I was given the bike with a badly chunked rear Pirelli though…
On the brakes, the #99 bike with my weight on it was really quite tail happy and unstable. The forks were soft and as initial bite took up on the front brakes, the forks would dive through their stroke and then the back would come around. Fabien seemed to like it like that and it obviously works – looking at how fast he was around Portimao! It is just that it is so different to the other bike set-ups.
Overall it was a real thrill riding the Hanspree Ten Kate CBR600RR but not the refined machine I expected – these gun riders make it all look so smooth and easy…
2011 WSS Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR Specifications
Wet weight: 160kg
Fuel capacity: 17L
Engine:Liquid-cooled, four-cylinder, 16-valve, DOHC four-stroke, HRC Camshafts
Bore and stroke: 67.0 x 42.5mm
Fuel delivery: PI Research Pectel
Gearbox: Six-speed cassette-style, HRC
Clutch: STM Wet, multi-plate slipper clutch
Frame type: Aluminium Die Cast
Front suspension: 25mm Andreani closed cartridge
Rear suspension: Ohlins TTX36
Front brakes: Nissin
Rear brake: Nissin
Front and rear wheels: Stock CBR600RR
Front tyre: Pirelli
Rear tyre: Pirelli
Instruments: PI Research
2011 WSS Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR Gallery