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International, classy & classic | Events

The 2015 Australian Motorcycle News International Island Classic is now in its 22nd year and pits the Aussies against the Poms,Yanks and Kiwis in the coveted Tahbilk International Challenge team race.

The Aussies have won the trophy every year since 2005 and this year could make it ten consecutive years. Or not. The hotly contested race has some of the best riders from around the world competing.

A TRUE TWO WHEEL TALENT FEST

Australia has an unblemished record in the Tahbilk International Challenge, but worked up a real sweat to defeat the Jeremy McWilliams-led UK team in 2014. It was a massive fight, and in 2015 a number of new faces have been drafted into the Australian squad to provide even more bite, including Jed Metcher, Ryan Taylor, AMCN’s Sports and Road Test Editor Paul Young and veteran John Pace. That trio will link up with International Challenge hard men such as Cameron Donald, Rob Phillis, Shawn Giles, Steve Martin and Brendan Roberts – all now retired from full-time racing except for Donald.

Metcher, who’s just had three plates and nine screws removed from his left foot – the residual of a prior injury — represents a real injection of International Challenge youth, and he’s just completed a second shakedown test on the Suzuki Katana he’ll race in 2015.

“This test was a really important one, as next time we hit the track on this Katana, it will be for real,” said Metcher. “I’m quite happy with the setup improvements that have been made since last time I rode the bike at Broadford in November.

“We have been working really hard developing a more powerful engine on the workbench which should be ready for the event and a big help.”

Young, a former road racing star turned journalist at Australian Motorcycle News, will take on his first International Challenge on a Honda Harris F1 machine, and Ryan Taylor, who has dominated the Period 6 ranks at recent Island Classics, will be aboard Yamaha’s towering TZ750.

Australia’s biggest hard chargers in the International Challenge are again expected to be former national superbike champions Martin and Giles, as well Donald and Roberts. The quartet was all fast in 2014, with Giles eventually scoring the individual honours alongside Briton Jeremy McWilliams — both awarded the Ken Wootton Perpetual Trophy.

The UK team will again fight hard for the prize in 2015 with the ageless McWilliams at its disposal, as well as Ryan Farquhar, Conor Cummins, expatriate Glen Richards and the always quotable Isle of Man hero John McGuinness, who said he was “crunching his plums” in race four last year just trying to keep up with the main bunch.

Richards could be a real X-factor: the native South Australian was a successful long-time campaigner in England before retiring from full-time racing – a national supersport title the pinnacle. If he’s on song at Phillip Island, he could be the man to help bridge the gap between Australia and the United Kingdom.

The American squad is headed by Rob Mesa, James McKay and David Crussell, while the Kiwis will keep the others honest with Damien Kavney leading the charge alongside Glenn Hindle, Roger Gunn and Terry Morris.

There are two non-riding team captains, Australia’s Rex Wolfenden and New Zealand’s Stu Avant, the latter a former international who once led a British 500 GP race. Avant is a co-captain with Kevin Grey, and America’s chief is Crussell.

ABOUT THE CLASSIC

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. Racing is held across classes ranging from pre-war to period 6 (up to 1990), and marques to be represented include AJS, Ariel, Harley-Davidson, Indian, Norton, Velocette, BSA, Bultaco, Matchless, Triumph, Vincent, Aermacchi, Laverda, Ducati and the four Japanese brands, as well as fare from specialist engine and chassis manufacturers.

This year a record 56 races are on the agenda – Friday 23 January is devoted to qualifying for the six period classes and the International Challenge. The Welcome Dinner is on in the evening with special guest Jeremy Burgess up-close and personal.

Saturday and Sunday features back-to-back racing for the coveted trophies from 9am to 5pm.

CLASSIC PRICES FOR AUSTRALIA DAY’S ISLAND CLASSIC!

Grab your mates, grab your family, grab a circuit camp spot and head to Phillip Island this Australian Day long weekend for the Australian Motorcycle News Island Classic.

Book in advance for special prices – a three day adult entry is just $70*, a Sunday only is a mere $45*; and camping is $70 per adult for up to four nights – or if you are just staying two nights $55*. Kids 15 and under enter free.

For tickets and camping, go to www.islandclassic.com.au for booking forms or call the circuit on 03 5952 2710 on weekdays.

CLUB CLASSIC

If you would like to do Sunday in style, and be wined and dined in our corporate suite, then book for Club Classic. You’ll spend the day based from our Pit roof suite, with floor to ceiling windows that overlook Gardner Straight, pit lane and the start/finish line.

You’ll have easy access to the rooftop for a panoramic view, or to the GP Paddock to visit the teams and view the bikes at close range. And you’ll enjoy Phillip Island hospitality at its best with morning tea, a buffet lunch with dessert and tea and coffee. There’s a cash bar for alcohol.

Other bonuses include a full timing feed to the Club’s flat screen tv’s, live course commentary, and a reserved car park in the support paddock.

We have two booking options, as Club Classic is only open Sunday.

Sunday only for $135, or an additional $20 for Friday and Saturday at the circuit with a general admission pass.

For your booking go to www.islandclassic.com.au/ticket-information

*All prices quoted are purchased in advance, with savings on gate prices.

**Souvenir programs just $5 at the track from Friday.