THE Southern Hemisphere’s largest historic road race meeting – the 23rd AMCN International Island Classic – will rev into life this weekend from January 22-24. A total of 340 competitors, and up to 520 bikes, will converge on Phillip Island for an event created for classic bike lovers of all ages.
The coveted event has continued to attract not only strong local interest from the likes of Melbournian WSBK rider Jed Metcher but international interest with Ireland now fielding a strong team to contest the highly-coveted International Challenge Cup.
Ardent historic road racer Rick Johnson, from Carrum, has been a staunch supporter of the event for years. “Historic bikes are very popular and they’re a lot of old people out there,” Rick, a Period 6 rider, said.
“Phillip Island is a fantastic race track too. It’s fast, technical and you can view the track from a lot of spots. As a spectator, you’ll be able to come into the pits and talk to the riders and have a good close look at the bikes. You’re not excluded from the pits – it’s all well and good,” he added.
The Irish will take on four other experienced teams such as defending champions, the United Kingdom, Australia the United States of America, and New Zealand. The UK, under the captaincy of Roger Winfield, managed to break a 10 year Australian dominance in 2015.
Australia is looking to grab back the trophy it lost to the Brits last year and captain Rex Wolfenden, a legendary historic road racer from Heidelberg in Melbourne, has been busy hatching a plan for retribution.
The International Challenge Cup, just a myriad of events on offer at the Island Classic, consists of bikes manufactured between 1973 and 1984, and for capacities ranging from 350cc – 1300cc. Points from the top five scorers in each national team will go towards the final stages.
Rick will compete in the Pablo’s Motorcycle Tyers Period 6 Formula 1300 class at the weekend. “I just hope to finish and walk away from the weekend with no injuries and a running bike. If I can better my lap-times in the process then it will be all well and good,” Rick, who’ll be competing on a 30-year-old bike on the weekend, added.
“If you like classic old bikes it’s a fantastic meeting to go to. It’s one of the only events where you’ll see about half-a-dozen Yamaha TZ750s on a grid at the same time. There are very few of them around these days,” Rick added.
Organisers expect to assume 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 still 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.
For tickets go to www.islandclassic.com.au or call the circuit on (03) 5952 2710 on weekdays.