The United Kingdom has sensationally snapped Australia’s 10-year winning streak in the International Challenge teams’ event at the 2015 AMCN Island Classic at Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit, held this Australia Day weekend.
Led by Northern Ireland’s Ryan Farquhar, who finished as the highest individual point-scorer after the four six-lap races, the UK team finally knocked an out-of-sorts Australia off the top perch in the Tahbilk International Challenge with a 42pt victory (617 to 575), followed by America on 445 and the Graeme Crosby-captained New Zealand on 347.
Despite Aussie riders winning three of the four races, consistency was the decisive ingredient for the UK, with not only Farquhar but also Conor Cummins and Jeremy McWilliams putting in the hard yards.
The win was an emotional one for the UK, especially for the squad’s mainstay McWilliams, who has won the individual standings three times without ever taking home the equally coveted teams’ trophy.
“This is a great day for the UK team, and understandably there’s a fair bit of emotion in the pits at the moment. The International Challenge is extremely tough and you’ve got to be there in every race.
“This weekend, we had solid riders and solid equipment and we proved to be more reliable when it counted.
“But we still had our fair share of issues, but to get past those headaches and take the victory is an absolutely sensational result.
“And congratulations must also go to Ryan (Farquhar), who was incredible all weekend.”
Farquhar’s victory in the Ken Wootton Perpetual Trophy as the individual top scorer came about in the most stunning – and unexpected – of circumstances, with Australian Brendan Roberts (Suzuki Katana) a lay down misere to claim the honours before he ran off at Doohan Corner (turn one) on the final lap of race four and failed to finish.
That opened the door for Farquhar, but there was still another prickly issue for the Yamaha Harris F1 rider to deal with: he had to be beat his teammate and International Challenge rookie Cummins (Honda Harris F1) to make sure of victory.
Cummins was in fifth position heading into the final lap of race four, and Farquhar was eighth – but the tables were turned during the last 4.445km with Farquhar finishing in fifth and Cummins seventh.
That saw Farquhar finish on 141pts after a brace of consistent 8-4-6-5 finishes, with Cummins producing a 139pt haul with his 7-6-5-7 scorecard. McWilliams (Yamaha Harris F1, 2-1-17-6) was third overall on 138pts, his lowly result in race three coming after he stalled his bike on the grid and had to make a charge through the pack from last position.
“This is all a bit of a shock really,”
“Race four was really all about playing the team game, but in the latter stages I knew what the equation was and I just really put my head down.
“The victory hasn’t really sunk in yet, but if you ask me about midnight tonight I’m sure I will have come to grips with it all by then!”
Said Farquhar, a long-time supporter of the International Challenge
Roberts’ DNF in race four was the culmination of a mass attrition rate for Australia’s core of star riders in the International Challenge, with fellow Katana brethren Steve Martin, Shawn Giles, Jed Metcher, Paul Young and Cameron Donald or failing to either not start or finish one race – three in the case of Martin who had a wretched weekend. Moreover, Rob Phillis failed to start the event after mechanical issues felled his Suzuki XR69.
Today, Martin’s bout of bad luck continued in race three when his bike blew an engine seal, with riders including McWilliams, Young and Roberts caught out by a trail of oil at turn 10. The race was red-flagged with all riders except Martin returning for the full restart. That followed on from a crash for Martin on Friday and electrical problems on Saturday.
Giles won races one and three, while Metcher got home in the fourth — the rookie clearly the fastest rider on the track today. It was a solid hitout for the Melbourne-based Metcher ahead of his upcoming wildcard appearance at the world superbike round at Phillip Island from February 20-22.
Damien Kavney (XR69, 10-10-10-12), riding for Team New Zealand, was fourth overall in the Ken Wootton Perpetual Trophy on 122pts, from Giles (1-DNS-1-2, 119), Metcher (4-2-DNF-1, 116), Young (DNF-3-3-3, 114), Laurie Fyffe (Harris Suzuki, 11-11-12-16, 114), Cameron Donald (3-DNF-4-4, 112) and Roberts (6-5-2-DNF, 110).
The highest placed individual finisher for Team America was Dave Crussell (Yamaha TZ750) in 11th position on 105pts.
Meanwhile, there were joint winners in the Phil Irving Perpetual Trophy, awarded to the rider(s) who accumulates the highest amount of points outside the International Challenge. Levy Day won it for the third time in five years, and he shared the spoils with Michael Dibb. Day clean swept the 350cc Classic and 500cc Classic classes, and Dibb was just as prolific in Unlimited Forgotten Era and New Era Formula 1300cc.
For full results from the Island Classic, visit www.computime.com.au.
Tahbilk International Challenge Final Points
1 – United Kingdom 617
2 – Australia 575
3 – America 445
4 – New Zealand 341
Tahbilk International Challenge Individual Results
1 – Ryan Farquhar, UK, 141
2 – Conor Cummins, UK, 139
3 – Jeremy McWilliams, UK, 138
4 – Damien Kavney, New Zealand, 122
5 – Shawn Giles, Australia, 119
6 – Jed Metcher, Australia, 116
=7 Paul Young, Australia, 114
=7 Laurie Fyffe, Australia, 114
9 – Cameron Donald, Australia, 112
10 – Brendan Roberts, Australia, 110
125cc Forgotten Era – Peter Forkes, Honda
125cc New Era – Tait Coghill, Honda
125cc Post-classic – John Eastwood, Honda
250cc Classic – Darrell Bailey, Ducati
250cc Forgotten Era – Stephen Ward, Armstrong
250cc New Era Production – Glenn Chandler, Honda
250cc New Era – Lech Budniak, Yamaha
250cc Post-classic – Murray Seabrook, Yamaha
350cc Classic – Levy Day, Honda
350cc Forgotten Era – Lachlan Hill, Yamaha
350cc Post-Classic – Murray Seabrook, Yamaha
500cc Classic – Levy Day, Honda
500cc Forgotten Era – Colin Heather, Honda
500cc New Era – Steve Tozer, Kawasaki
500cc Post-classic – Tom Bramich, Paton
New Era Formula 750cc – Malcolm Campbell, Honda
Pre War – David Morse, Velocette
Unlimited Classic – Cameron Donald, Harley-Davidson
Unlimited Forgotten Era Premier Class – Michael Dibb, Honda
Unlimited Forgotten Era Minor Class – Martin Hodgson, Suzuki
New Era Formula 1300cc – Michael Dibb, Yamaha
Unlimited Post-classic – Dean Oughtred, Honda