MEDIA RELEASE: The southern hemisphere’s largest historic motorcycle meet, the 23rd AMCN International Island Classic to be held next Australia Day long weekend at Phillip Island, continues to attract international interest with confirmation today Ireland will field a team.
The green-leaf clover entry means five national squads will race the Challenge next January 22-24, with the Irish taking on the four experienced teams – defending champions the UK, Australia who won the title from its inception in 2005 to 2014, the USA and NZ.
Tickets went on sale this week at www.islandclassic.com.au for the three day Island Classic, with packed agenda shaping up to feature 56 races, with qualifying Friday and racing Saturday and Sunday.
Under the captaincy of Mike Meskell, Ireland will field a team of nine. Meskell came for a look, see in 2015 competing on a Suzuki Katana 1260, and left determined to return in 2016 with a competitive Irish squad. His line-up will be announced in the next month.
Back to defend their 2015 title is the Roger Winfield led UK outfit, ready to retain the crown they clinched last January after ten long years of Australian dominance.
Australia is desperate to make amends for their loss, with captain Rex Wolfenden busy planning the Aussie retribution.
Graeme Crosby will lead the Kiwi team and is putting together a formidable crew, determined to turn their performance up a notch; while Dave Crussell is recruiting a US outfit.
Rule changes have been introduced to allow for the Irish, with a maximum of eight riders from each country in each race – rather than the previous ten – making a rip snorting field of 40 for the four six- lap races.
International Challenge rules allow for bikes manufactured between 1973-1984, and for capacities ranging from 350-1300 cc.
Points from the top five scorers in each national team will go towards the final tally.
AMCN, the leading Australian motorcycle magazine for over six decades, has backed the event since its inauguration in 1994, when much-loved editor, Ken Wootton, took his passion for bikes and racing and helped Phillip Island circuit managing director, Fergus Cameron, create an event for bike lovers of all ages.
Cameron says a top rider trophy for each era will be introduced in 2016 and the awards given to the best performer in each of the six historic classes.
“The Island Classic is a celebration of history, a nod to two-wheel engineering feats all the way back to the turn of the 20th century,” said Cameron.
“It’s a true bike fest and if you love bikes, you will see them all here from old Indians to Nortons and Vincents, from Harley-Davidsons to vintage Triumphs, Bultacos and Ducatis.”
If the last years are any indication, International Challenge riders like former MotoGP rider Jeremy McWilliams, Australia’s superbike ace Shawn Giles and the Isle of Man’s John McGuinness, boast a wealth of experience and exceptional talent.
“The win at all costs mentality never leaves a racer,” said Cameron.
“And that’s why the Island Classic makes for incredible racing because you have all these retired, frustrated racers with a heap of talent, all desperate to have a big go, anytime they get near a race track.
“But sometimes their youthful exuberance gets them into a bit of on-track trouble!”
Shannon’s Insurance is also back on board to sponsor the Parade Lap for those keen to showcase their treasured bike on the hallowed island bitumen.
Organisers expect to usurp last year’s record roll call of 340 riders on over 520 bikes from the six eras of historic racing – from Pre WW1 bikes through Vintage (1920-1945), Classic and Post Classic (from 1946 to 1972), and the more recent Forgotten Era and New Era classes.
Tickets are on sale with an advance three-day adult pass for $70* and children 15 and under free. VIP options are also available in Club Classic.
For a super affordable weekend, camp on the circuit just metres from Gardner Straight with four nights under the stars for just $70* per adult, booked in advance, and children 15 and under gratis.