Star Studded entry for Island Classic Motorcycle Showdown
Jeremy McWilliams, the man who three times out-qualified multiple world champion Valentino Rossi at Victoria’s Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, is one of over 340 entries received for the Australian Motorcycle News-sponsored International Island Classic, to be held at the 4.45km circuit on 21-23 January, 2011.
The bulging entry list makes the 2011 International Island Classic one of Australia’s biggest motorcycle race meetings and most popular Historic festivals, underlined when 19,200 spectators attended last year’s event.
In addition to former MotoGP rider McWilliams, the star-studded 2011 rider line-up includes two world champions, two Isle of Man TT record holders and more than 20 national champions – many with international racing success. Riders from Great Britain, France, USA, New Zealand and Australia have entered this year’s event.
Over 110 of the 340 entries have been received for the high-profile Forgotten Era category for pre-1982 Superbike and Grand Prix machinery, with the fastest 45 to contest the four International Challenge feature races.
McWilliams (Suzuki XR69 F1) joins World Endurance Champions Steve Martin (Suzuki Katana) and Warwick Nowland (Moriwaki Suzuki), two-times Australian Superbike Champion Malcolm Campbell (Suzuki RG500), multiple Australian champion Robbie Phillis (Suzuki Katana), Irish champion Ryan Farquhar (Suzuki XR69 F1), Isle of Man TT record-holder Cameron Donald (Suzuki XR69 F1) and reigning Australian Superstock 1000 champion Beau Beaton (Vincent Black Lightning) as one the leading contenders for the outright win.
The Ulsterman is no stranger to the fast and flowing Phillip Island circuit, having twice qualified on pole for the premier category in the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, out-qualifying multiple world champion Rossi on each occasion.
The first time in 2000 McWilliams was on the 500GP Aprilia V-twin, and the second time in 2002 he was aboard the ill-favoured Proton KR3, the first year of the new combined MotoGP 990cc four-stroke and 500GP two-stroke category. McWilliams’ feat in 2002 is all the more impressive as it was the last time a 500cc two-stroke would qualify on pole at the 4.45km circuit.
To underline his liking for the Phillip Island circuit, McWilliams also qualified fastest for the 1999 Australian 250cc Grand Prix at Phillip Island, again ahead of Rossi.
Martin heads the Australian contingent along with Campbell and Phillis, the latter duo the two hardened warhorses of Australian racing. Martin, the 1999 Australian Superbike Champion, holds the outright Historic lap record for the circuit at 1:40.153, the stunning time set at last year’s event when Martin claimed victory in all four International Challenge races.
“I reckon we can find another half second easily, and probably a full second, by getting it dialled in better,” said Martin. “I can’t see why ’38s won’t be possible this year.
“We’re already into the 40s, which isn’t too bad for a 30-year-old motorcycle,” added Martin. “But I honestly believe 39s and maybe even 38s are possible.”
“I wouldn’t go to other race meetings just to spectate, but I always tried and get to the Island Classic in past years,” said Martin, who when he’s not racing co-hosts the international television coverage of the Superbike World Championship on Speed Channel. “When the opportunity came up to race in it last year I jumped at it, and now I’m back for more.”
In addition to the International Challenge for 1973-1982 Forgotten Era motorcycles, a full support program for Veteran, Vintage, Classic and Post-classic solos and sidecars will ensure three days of non-stop on-track action at Australia’s premier Historic festival.
For further details on the meeting go to www.phillipislandcircuit.com.au, or tel (03) 5952 2710.