21 January, 2016

Australia Braced For Classic Motorbike Race

Hundreds of vintage motorbikes will be out on show on the picturesque Australian island of Phillip this weekend.

The AMCN International Island Classic (January 22-24) is hailed as the largest historic motorbike race event in the whole southern hemisphere. We take a look at what makes it so special…

The setting

The idyllic Phillip Island is roughly half the size of the Isle of Wight. Its twisting countryside grand prix track, one of the most distinctive in the world, rests 87 miles south of Melbourne.

The Classic

This year’s 23rd edition promises:Classic Nortons out on Phillip Island

  • More than 520 racing motorcycles spanning six different epochs of bike racing (from 1919 classic bikes to 1990s machines)
  • Over 340 motorcyclists from all around the world
  • 56 races
  • Expert chassis and engine makers

The main event

Mitchelton Wines’ International Challenge pits five giant biking nations against one another.

Australia, Britain, the US, New Zealand and Ireland are the competitors.

Each will race eight-strong teams over a quartet of six 4.44km-lap races of the Phillip Island circuit.

Britain are the reigning champions, having ended Australia’s run of 10 successive victories last year.

The UK’s Ryan Farquhar is the reigning individual champion and holder of the Ken Wootton Perpetual Trophy.

It is raced on Friday (January 22) along with six period classics.

The weekend sees back-to-back races staged between 9am and 5pm.

The biker who accrues the greatest tally of points across all classes will win a Phil Irving Trophy, previously held by Cam Donald, Wayne Gardner and other famous names.

The classic bikes

Expect leading names such as:

  • Ducati
  • Aermacchi
  • Norton
  • Ariel
  • Triumph
  • Bultaco
  • Harley-Davidson

The classic riders

The Britons include:

  • Jeremy McWilliams
  • Ryan Farquhar
  • John McGuinness
  • Glen Richards
  • Conor Cummins

The Australians include:

  • Marty Craggill (twice Australian superbike winner and making his debut in the International Challenge)
  • Cameron Donald
  • Paul Young
  • Shawn Giles
  • Steve Martin

Other two-wheel luminaries, set to be interviewed by bike historian Alan Cathcart, include:

  • Paul Smart, the former racer
  • Lester and Steve Harris, the chassis gurus