With both the high-profile Forgotten Era (Period 5) Unlimited, and 500 Classic (Period 3) oversubscribed, this year’s national championship, sponsored by Shannons Insurance, has the makings of one of the most closely contested in the history of the event.
Many of Australia’s best-known riders have entered the meeting, among them Australian Superbike champions Robbie Phillis and Malcolm Campbell, Isle of Man TT star Cameron Donald and World Superstock Champion Brendan Roberts.
A 27-strong New Zealand contingent includes current NZ Superbike champion Andrew Stroud, 1970 world 500GP runner-up Ginger Molloy and multiple Australia 500 Classic champion Dave Cole.
Adding to the international flavour, Japanese rider Shizuka Motegi has entered on a 1954 Rennsport BMW.
Phillis, who twice finished third in the Superbike World Championship, will contest the Unlimited Forgotten Era Championship on a brand new Suzuki Katana 1100. With the 2010 rules allowing for motorcycles built up until 1982, Phillis has replaced his 1980 Suzuki GSX1100 with the new bike.
“The pace has been getting hotter in the class, so I need more horsepower,” says Phillis. “It’s time to retire the old girl and put it in my lounge room.”
Phillis will have plenty of competition in his quest for another national title in what is the fastest and most powerful category in Australian Historic racing. Two-time Australian Superbike Champion Malcolm Campbell (1980 Suzuki RG500), reigning Australian Unlimited Period 5 Champion Laurie Fyffe (1980 Suzuki GSX1100), current Australian number three Michael Dibb (1980 Honda CB1100R) and the Yamaha TZ750 two-strokes of Adam Senior and Craig Ditchburn, the latter the son of ex-factory Kawasaki rider Barry, are all potential race winners.
The Unlimited Forgotten Era lap record is currently held by reigning world endurance champ and 1999 Australian Superbike champion Steve Martin, who set the benchmark 1:40.153 at this year’s Island Classic at the Victorian circuit last January – a meeting that attracted 19,200 spectators to the 4.45km Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.
Martin was competing in on a modified 1980 Suzuki GSX1100, and lowered the record held previously by Malcolm ‘Wally’ Campbell (1980 Suzuki RG500), who in turn had taken it off 1987 World 500GP champion Wayne Gardner (1978 Honda CB900F).
With Martin’s overseas racing commitments not allowing him to compete at Phillip Island next weekend, his lap-record holding Suzuki will be ridden by fellow South Australian Sean McKay.
A packed schedule of events across the three days will include races for Vintage, Veteran, Classic, Post-Classic and Forgotten Era motorcycles and sidecars. For further details go to www.phillipislandcircuit.com.au, or call the circuit Hotline on (03) 5952 2710.