The annual Island Classic has become the first victim of Motorcycling Australia’s (MA) ban on aviation gasoline, with Team UK refusing to convert its racebikes for a single meeting. Organisers are examining other options to ensure some form of a UK team will front the starter over the Australia Day weekend next January.
“We’ve loved having Roger (Winfield) and his team at the Island Classic for well over 10 years, but with the ban on aviation gas we understand their reticence to compete,” said Phillip Island circuit managing director Fergus Cameron. “We have UK riders who want to attend, and we are looking at our bike options, so let’s just say the UK team is currently a work in progress.”
Winfield announced after this year’s International Challenge that he was retiring from his role as chief organiser and main supplier of machinery for Team UK. He said he was prepared to bring back Team UK’s lead rider, Jeremy McWilliams, and one, possibly two motorcycles.
The ban on avgas would mean the UK bikes would need to be converted to a one-off Australian spec just weeks after the Manx Classic TT to make shipment deadlines. So the other option appears to be sourcing local machinery.
Meanwhile, last year’s standout rider, Aussie David Johnson on Tom Dermody’s machinery, has said he is available again to ride for Australia.
Dermody supplied machinery for Team Ireland in 2017 so isn’t necessarily committed to the Australian team.
The much improved Team USA has announced it will bring back star riders Jason Pridmore, Jake Zemke and Barrett Long. It has already started testing its 2019 machinery.
Team NZ is also committed to returning, so fans will be assured of a strong depth of talent, with possibly Team USA being the main challenger to defending champions Australia.