Australia is pulling out all stops to wrest the International Challenge trophy back from the United Kingdom, recruiting Phillip Island master and two-times WorldSBK champ Troy Corser to lead the team when the 25th AMCN International Island Classic is held at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit from January 26-28.
Brimming with talent and experience, the Australian nine-rider squad also includes former national superbike champions Steve Martin and Shawn Giles, Isle of Man winner Cameron Donald, Beau Beaton, 2017 race winner Alex Phillis and David Johnson, who returns to the Australian team for the first time since 2010.
Irish expatriate Paul Byrne and Ken Watson join the Australian team for the first time, while the Aussie offensive will be rounded out by long-time historic racing campaigner Scott Webster.
Corser, whose last appearance at Phillip Island was in the 2011 WorldSBK round, will ride a 1982 Honda Harris F1 machine prepared by Australian captain Rex Wolfenden in the International Challenge, which has been won by the UK the last three years.
“It’s time to get back and race at home in front of a Phillip Island home crowd. It’s been a long time.
I have been doing the Goodwood events with a great team at BMW Classic, riding some old museum bikes. It’s been a lot of fun. Everyone tells me the Island Classic is a great event so with it being the 25th anniversary, it feels like a good time to come back and give it a go.”
Said Corser from his UK base, where he lives with wife Sam and two teenage kids, Kalani and Kelisa.
While Corser is making his International Challenge debut – now to be known as the MV Agusta International Challenge – for Aussie veteran Martin it will be his ninth consecutive appearance.
“It’s always a special time of year, being part of Team Australia celebrating Australia Day and racing motorcycles.
We have a new line-up this year with Corser coming on board, making it one of the most competitive teams we have ever had.
We need it too, because the Poms have a team full of current British superbike wannabes – and then there’s Jeremy (McWilliams). He’s a bit fast for my liking but I especially hate the fact he’s such a good bloke!”
Said 48-year-old Martin, the 1999 Australian Superbike Champion and 2009 World Endurance Champion.
In his first International Challenge way back in 2010, still the world endurance champion, Martin topped the individual standings.
Martin and Giles will ride their trusty Suzuki Katanas in the 2018 International Challenge, while Corser will be the only Aussie riding a Honda. Phillis will campaign a Suzuki XR69; Beaton and Donald will be Irving Vincent-mounted; Byrne will pilot a McIntosh Suzuki; Johnson will have a Ducati 750 Imola at his disposal; Webster will be on a Suzuki Harris machine; and Watson has the firebrand Yamaha TZ750 two-stroke in his corner.
All nine riders can take part in qualifying, but the Aussie team will be trimmed to eight for the four International Challenge races against the same sized teams from the United Kingdom, the Colin Edwards-led America and New Zealand.
The MV Agusta International Challenge is held over four races on the Island Classic weekend, reserved for machines manufactured between 1973 and 1984.
In 2017, the UK’s speed and consistency again came to the fore as it continued its International Challenge dominance. Five of the UK riders finished inside the top 10 of the individual standings, compared to three for Australia and two for Ireland – which will sit out the 2018 event.
As a result, the ruthless UK outfit retained the International Challenge trophy ahead of Australia, Ireland, America and New Zealand.
UK guru Jeremy McWilliams won the Ken Wootton Perpetual Trophy ahead of Aussies Jed Metcher and Giles – as well as setting a new historic lap record – but his push for a clean sweep of victories was scuppered by a flying Phillis in the final race.
The International Challenge forms just a small part of the overall Island Classic event, with over 50 races for bikes from pre-WW1 bikes (Veteran) through to Vintage (1920-1945), Classic (1946-1962), Post Classic (1963-1972), Forgotten Era (1973-1982) and New Era (1983-1999).
AUSTRALIA INTERNATIONAL CHALLENGE TEAM
Captain: Rex Wolfenden
|Troy Corser||Honda Harris F1||1982||1150|
|Steve Martin||Suzuki Katana 1294||1982||1294|
|Shawn Giles||Suzuki Katana 1294||1982||1294|
|Alex Phillis||Suzuki XR69||1982||1266|
|Beau Beaton||Irving Vincent||1982||1300|
|Cam Donald||Irving Vincent||1982||1300|
|Paul Byrne||McIntosh Suzuki||1982||1260|
|Daivd Johnson||Ducati 750 Imola||1972||1060|
|Scott Webster||Suzuki Harris||1980||1200|
|Ken Watson (Reserve)||Yamaha TZ31||1978||750|
Tickets Now On Sale
Pre-purchase ticket booking forms are now available from www.islandclassic.com.au
Three-day tickets are only $80* in advance; Sunday only $50* in advance; Saturday only $40* in advance. All children 15 and under free**
Circuit camping packages for four nights are available, including three-day General Admission ticket for only $155* in advance.
VIP Hospitality is available for single day and weekend packages in the Pit Roof Club Classic Suite. Packages start from $160 per person
The AMCN International Island Classic will showcase more than 300 riders and 500 bikes & sidecars competing in the 3 day extravaganza.
For more information and tickets contact the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on 03 5952 2710 or www.islandclassic.com.au
*All ticket prices quoted purchased in advance. Pre-purchase ends 4pm Wednesday 24th January 2018.
**Children 15 and under are free and must be accompanied by a paying adult.