When you build the Ducati 900 that Mike Hailwood took to the 1978 Isle of Man TT winner’s circle, it is difficult to know what to do for an encore.
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The numbers are staggering-76 MotoGP wins, 14 victories at the Isle of Man, 10 World Championships-but the most storied of "Mike The Bike" Hailwood’s achievements may be his 1978 victory in the Formula 1 class at the Isle of Man TT. Ending an 11-year absence from motorcycle racing, the 38-year-old Hailwood stunned the world on a Sports Motorcycles Ducati 900TT1 (read about Alan Cathcart’s ride on the 900TT1 in our Aug/Sept 2007 issue).
Tucked in behind the windscreen of the NCR Millona One Shot, rapidly reeling in blurring pavement on the steep banking of Fontana’s California Speedway, my peripheral vision caught the flashing red shift indicator light. Having not counted the shifts and traveling at this speed, I assumed all the available gears had been exhausted. Out of curiosity, I chopped the throttle for a millisecond and tapped the shifter. My inquisitiveness revealed that sixth gear was still virgin territory.