Australia’s quest to retain ownership of the coveted International Challenge teams’ trophy in the 22nd AMCN International Island Classic for historic bikes at Phillip Island next Australia Day long weekend (January 23-25) has been given a huge boost with Jed Metcher to line-up for Australia.
The 24-year-old young gun from Melbourne, who won the 2011 European 600 Superstock title, will compete in the International Challenge on a Suzuki Katana, with his teammates set to include former Australian superbike champions Steve Martin and Shawn Giles.
The International Challenge is the main event at the International Island Classic, with 10-rider teams from Australia, the United Kingdom, America and New Zealand battling it out across four races to determine the historic champion.
The annual event at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit is the biggest historic bike event in the southern hemisphere with tickets and trackside camping on sale from today at www.islandclassic.com.au (download booking form) or call the circuit on (03) 5952 2710.
Australia has been victorious since the Challenge began in 2005, although last year the locals had to work up a real sweat to keep their unblemished record intact, as the Jeremy McWilliams-led UK outfit pushed the Aussies to the line.
McWilliams’ consolation was finishing equal first alongside Giles in the individual standings. It was Giles’ second individual win, and McWilliams’ third.
Metcher has been somewhat of a nomad in 2014, competing across Australia, the UK and Europe in a variety of classes, but he’s recently signed a deal to compete in the 2015 and 2016 British superbike title to secure his racing future.
The 2015 British season doesn’t start until early April, which means Metcher’s free to race locally. He’s put late January’s International Challenge on his agenda — and he’s deadly serious about making an impact in his historic debut, having already started testing his Katana.
“I have always wanted to compete at the Island Classic, but I have never had the bike to make it happen. But this Katana is quite nice to ride and is very stable, so I’m hoping to be very competitive and have a really fun weekend.”
“The Island Classic is a brilliant event: some of the stars that race I have looked up to over the years, so competing with and against them will add an extra dimension for me.”
The remaining Australian team members will be announced shortly, while the UK team will again feature McWilliams and Isle of Man hero John McGuinness, as well as fellow hard chargers Conor Cummins and Ryan Farquhar. South Australian Glenn Richards, who has only recently retired after a successful road racing career, mainly in England, also looks to have ‘snuck’ into the UK line-up to add even more depth — producing a few more headaches for the Australian camp.
The laconic McGuinness made his International Challenge debut in 2014, and was amazed at the ferocity of the racing.
“I underestimated how fast the racing is around here, doing 37s on bikes that are 30 years old. I was crunching my plums just trying to keep up, but it was mega enjoyable.”
The New Zealand and American teams are also a work-in-progress, and will be finalised soon.
In 2015, International Challenge rules allow for machines manufactured between 1973 and 1984 to compete, and for capacities ranging from 350-1300cc. All engines must be air-cooled.
Massively popular, the Island Classic is the largest historic motorcycle festival in the southern hemisphere. Last year, the Phillip Island pit was bursting at the seams as 340 ‘pilgrims’ took the reins of 490 motorcycles around the grand prix circuit, in classes ranging from pre-war to period 6 (up to 1990).
The 2015 Island Classic program will begin with qualifying Friday; with racing from 9:00am to 5:00pm on both Saturday and Sunday. The traditional Welcome Dinner moves to Friday night, with 650 expected to enjoy the entertainment, hosted by motorcycle veteran Will Hagon.
Tickets are now on sale with a discounted pre-purchase price at $70 for a three-day ticket or $45 for Sunday only. Children 15 and under are free. Pit Roof suite hospitality passes are also available for just $155 for three days in style.
Trackside camping is the most economical option for an Australia Day weekend getaway, with a three-day plot under the stars $70 for an adult (two nights $55 per adult) and children 15 and under free.
Check www.islandclassic.com.au for booking forms for tickets, camping and Club Classic Pit Roof hospitality or call the circuit on (03)5952 2710 for phone bookings.
Ffi Ingrid Roepers on mobile 04 111 989 44 or firstname.lastname@example.org