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Green with MV, MV Agusta F4 Endurance Racer

WHAT KIND OF BIKE WOULD YOU TAKE ENDURANCE RACING?

QB Carbon chose the most exotic, expensive and downright sexy bike they could get there hands on. Jealous? Us? By Superbike Magazine

So you are going endurance racing. You need a fast bike which handles too. It has to last up to eight hours of flat-out thrashing. Still interested in an Italian bike ?

QB Carbon is best known to you and I for its bespoke tailoring of Ducatis and MVs to customer's specification with lashings of carbon and wanton trickness. But it's also a rather handy outfit running in the KRC (Kent Racing Combine, for the pedants) Endurance Championship.

Mechanical Velvet - MV Agusta F4 Endurance Racer

In 2002 QB is running a team of MV Agusta F4s. Not the most obvious choice, perhaps, but team owner, John Merrill, wanted a challenge and has a passion for the bike.

The road version is a sublime experience in itself. It's small and narrow chassis integrity prioritised before low weight giving it a very stiff frame generates grip and holds a line in a totally alien way to riders of mass-produced Japanese bikes. That's not to say it's immune from criticism. It's not the fastest thing out there, with only the peerless aerodynamics permitting 174mph from 118bhp. Nor does it turn fast, strange given the diminutive stature. So what did QB Carbon make it for ?

Art, that's what. The MV F4 is my personal favourite production bike and many previous attempts to improve its aesthetics have exited stage left peeling scrambled chicken puddings from their physiognomy. QB played slightly safe by using the factory race colours as a base but, nevertheless, this is a bike that makes people stop and stare, for hours.

All of which meant that it had even more to live up to once the poetic magnesium wheels were set in motion on our Silverstone track day. It starts on the button and idles as only a radial-valued MV can. None more evocative, it makes you blip the already warm engine just to hear it echo in the garage. Select first by raising the lever - it's a race pattern shifter - and ease out of the surprisingly light hydraulic Magura clutch lever. Rolling down pit-lane all eyes are on it. In my spangly new Teknics that match the bike perfectly, I'm more than happy to pretend it's mine.

The first two laps are somewhat tentative given the cold and shagged Dunlop D207 GP's but the bike already feel freer revving and move neutral than the road version. With the tyres warm I head into the left-right-left-right-left Beckett's section for the first time in anger. The F4 sweeps through so easily we could have gone 20mph faster, so next time we do.
This one section demonstrated exactly what QB has achieved in its development. The bike switches sides quickly, but stops short of being twitchy and tying the suspension in knots. Once on its side there's a vast quantity of grip from the front tyre and ground clearance is massive.

It's no surprise to learn that the team's riders have a background in two-stroke racing. The MV holds corner speed beautifully and is easy to hold at the upper reaches of the rev range thanks to the delicious fuel injection. The throttle response at any point on the standard yellow tacho is smooth but direct.

Absolute power still isn't devastating, but there's enough to get a run on an R1 down the straight. That's pretty clever for a 750.While it's not peaky as such, it certainly wants revving. the redline isn't stratospheric at 13,500rpm - the same as the road bike - so you aim to keep it above 9,000rpm for the best results.

The faster steering, fortunately, does not come at the expense of traction. It did spin up gently at a couple of corners but the was more down to the worn tyre. Chassis feedback still encourages big handfuls of gas to be applied and lets you know exactly where the limits lies It retains that stability on the brakes, which have massive power with all the feel you want. It turns in well on a trailing brake too which suited Silverstone's sweeping turns. On the flip side it also likes to be stopped, slammed on its ear and screamed around a short, tight apex almost flat on its side. This bike doesn't just inspire confidence: it gets better and better the harder you ride it. A it more power and a quickshifter wouldn't hurt but it made my heart race regardless.

After the most exultant track session of my life, I've finally found the reason to take a MV F4 endurance racing. Twenty minutes just isn't enough.