Bikes: Arai celebrates 25yrs of TT

The 2009 Isle of Man TT races will mark 25 years of Arai Helmets officially supporting the TT.

From Dunlop to Hislop, McCallen to McGuinness, Fogarty to Jefferies; the legendary Japanese helmet is synonymous with the TT and have been atop some of its finest victories. But it’s not just the island’s greats that choose Arai, as each year up to 80% of competitors at the Isle of Man put their faith in the Japanese brand.

In 1983, Arai broke into the European market and the vision of its importer, Ferry Brouwer, was to do more than simply supplying helmets to racers but to offer a race service at every major motorcycle event. Though common practice now, back in the early eighties this level of support simply didn’t exist; Arai set the benchmark.

The first year of the Arai Race Support Service Team at the TT in 1984 was a far cry from the purpose-built unit and two support vans that will be manned by a staff of five at this year’s event; armed with a load of visors and a bucket, Ferry looked after riders Joey Dunlop and Brian Reid from the boot of his car with an Arai flag atop.

Working out of the back of a car wasn’t best practice, let alone great for building the image of a helmet brand, so very soon a dedicated support vehicle was used. Within five years of Arai offering this free service, the number of riders choosing Arai dramatically increased. Victories and compelling approval from prominent users and simply the performance of the product around the Mountain course couldn’t be ignored and by the late nineties up to 80% of the entire TT competitors were using Arai.

For Arai, the TT isn’t solely a brand awareness exercise. The races are also used to gather data and feedback on its products in order to aid development and create a better product for road riders as well as racers. Over the years and across its ranges, especially the new, range-topping RX-7 GP, Arai can hold the TT responsible in helping development to determine vent sizing and position, visor aperture and even the general fit of a helmet.

Over the last 25 years for Arai and its UK arm, Phoenix Distribution, its involvement with the TT has always covered more than just the race service support team and sponsoring riders. The manufacturer’s passion for the races has also seen it financially invest heavily in order to make sure the event continues as it is, most recently with a three-year, big-money sponsorship deal that began in 2007.

Many of the milestones – in fact it used to be all – feature Arai branding and its famous elliptical logo can be found on banners not just along the Mountain course but also at many points around the Island and; even the marshals all wear Arai clothing!

John Wakefield, managing director of Arai’s UK importer, Phoenix Distribution (NW) Ltd, explains: ‘We (Phoenix/Arai) are committed to the TT and will always try to be. We put in a massive investment every year and will continue to do so for 2009, despite the economic downturn. This event is the most demanding race course in the world and each lap the riders travel through so many different elements and conditions at speed that the TT is the ultimate test of our, or any, product. Long may it continue.”

The Arai Race Support Service will also attend the NW200 along with every round of the British Superbike championship. Road riders can also benefit from this free service at a series of public events throughout the year.

Arai 2009 TT hopefuls: Keith AmorBruce AnsteyMichael DunlopWilliam DunlopGary JohnsonSteve PlaterTim Reeves & Patrick Farrance Nick Crowe & Mark Cox

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