Ken Wooton International Perpetual Trophy 2014
By Trevor Hedge (Images kindly supplied by AMCN and Russell Colvin)
The Ken Wootton Memorial Trophy is awarded to the highest individual points scorer across the four International Challenge races at the Island Classic. There are very few people with even the remotest connection to Australian motorcycling that do not know of Ken Wotton and his many years piloting good ship AMCN. However, as it is now nearly three years since his passing, it is perhaps pertinent to add a little history for those that are new to the passion of motorcycling.
Ken was the journalist I spent the most time with during my early days in this business, right back to when I started MCNews.com.au in 1999. Actually, KW’s history goes back so far that virtually every Australian motorcycling scribe has spent the majority of his/her formative years in the presence of KW, in one form or another.
For most of the previous decade we shared the media centre at every round of the Australian Superbike Championship. For most of that time, we were the only pair of scribes in attendance at the rounds. Along with photographers Arthur Thornton and Keith Muir this was essentially the entire media contingent and from the Friday morning through to the Sunday evening, we were all subjected to each others’ acerbic wit. But we were certainly not in the same skill grade of cutting remarks as Ken. Ken and I shared a similar sense of humour, so where others often found offence I almost always saw the joke. Although it must be said, he sometimes could shock even me!
Due to being self-employed, I never had to work for Ken directly, which – due to his famously tireless work ethic – I am quite grateful for!
I did, however, write material on a freelance basis for AMCN many years ago under the pseudonym ‘Vert Bush’, which Ken had given me as a play on my real name, partly due to his quirky sense of humour and partly because of the need to not link AMCN with MCNews.com.au.
In those earlier days some people believed MCNEWS.COM.AU was the web arm of AMCN and due to the somewhat closed and guarded nature of the bike journo circle, some in this industry wished me ill will. I heard from several sources that at that time, KW more often than not actually defended what I was trying to do with MCNews.com.au in what were the pioneering days of reporting motorcycle news via the web. I believe Ken also perhaps played a role in helping to stave off potential legal challenges that could have come my way. Thus, I do have plenty to thank Ken for!
I do miss him and his cutting remarks. Over the years I developed a genuine affection for the man I jokingly dubbed the Eddie McGuire of the motorcycle industry. His attendance at almost every motorcycle media event in the country was a given, as either a reporter or master of ceremonies. And of course the tireless assistance he has given to the Australian Superbike Championship over the years, and racers alike, largely for free, is beyond measure.
It is rare for someone in our business to be given genuine respect, and KW had plenty of detractors, but even amongst those detractors I believe most still held a grudging respect for the biggest figure in Aussie moto-journalism. Ken had given tireless assistance and advice to in many things to Phillip Island. Chiefly however, Ken had been quite instrumental in the success of the Island Classic, thus after his passing Phillip Island management came up with the idea for the Ken Wootton Memorial Trophy, which they announced at a generously hosted wake at the circuit, after learning of his untimely death from a heart attack in his hotel room while holiday in Czechoslovakia, on Sunday, 24 July, 2011.
Jeremy McWilliams won the inaugural Ken Wootton International Perpetual Trophy in 2012, finished runner up to Shawn Giles in 2013, and in 2014 the two men shared the award after both tallying 155 points across the four International Challenge races at the 2014 Island Classic. Initially organisers judged Giles the winner due to his win in the final race, however McWilliams had already notched two wins and in many countries competitions, particularly in Europe, this would have seen McWilliams awarded the gong due to having more wins. Discussion between officials after the event however saw the award, presented by Karen Wootton, given jointly to both Shawn Giles and Jeremy McWilliams. However, Karen elected to give her famous cholocate brownies to Jeremy as she gets to see him less than Shawn.
“I never imagined the ferocity of the racing, and that was spectacular, alas I only made one batch of the Wootton perpetual chocolate brownies. Now, because I see Shawn a little bit more than I see Jeremy, I’m afraid I have to give, in a line-ball decision, the brownies to Jeremy.” Commented a somewhat overwhelmed Karen ‘Nurse’ Wootton after earlier regaling to the audience some amusing tales about her brother.
Before the final bout Cam Donald looked set to take the award however a dropped valve on his Suzuki ruined his chances and the Warrandyte based two-time IOM TT winner had to watch on from the sidelines as the final on-track battle was fought. And it could have not have been more close.
Giles won the final race but second place would have been enough for McWilliams to take the silverware. Initially it looked as though the Northern Irishman had done exactly that as he crossed the line beside Brendan Roberts however video review saw the second place awarded to Roberts, relegating McWilliams to third and thus equal on points for the event with Giles.
Nobody complained about the joint award, as it was in the spirit of the competition that such a gesture be made.
Jeremy McWilliams was particularly impressed with Karen’s decision to award the brownies to his good self. ”I can’t think of a better one and a better way to end this brilliant Island Classic weekend, particularly with the brownies!
“I would like to thank Roger Winfield and the whole team, the British team, they’ve done obviously another excellent job.
“I have to say, that every year we think about coming back to this event, that little trepidation does cross your mind before you come, when you get those little butterflies reminding you that you’ve really got to come out here and put everything on the line to be in the top three, four or five.
“This year, I was not expecting the ferocity of the race, I have to say that it’s by far the most fun to be part of, but also the most, probably, nerve-racking races I’ve had in as many years as I can remember.
“Somebody asked me, now, “I think it was, are you sand bagging or holding back,” there’s not one person on that grid that are hanging back, everybody’s just giving it 100 per cent total commitment.
“I was just lucky yesterday and how things turned around. They went in my favour yesterday, they went in first Cameron’s this morning, then Gilesy’s this afternoon, and because the event is held over four races, we never know what way it’s going to go.
“I have to thank you guys for making a decision that was probably difficult, with the AMCN rules and how you guys choose it, I would have thought that Gilesy would have won that, but maybe because we made the effort to come, you’ve given us something in return and I have to thank the organisers for that.
“Thanks Fergus for putting on a great show, thanks to everybody, the corner marshals, everybody who works with the circuit, Leanne and everybody involved, we’ve had a ball and a most enjoyable meeting, I can’t think of a better one.”
A beaming and somewhat sunburnt Shawn Giles took to the microphone after Jeremy. “Thanks Jeremy, it’s such an honour to be here racing, and Ken Wootton said to me when I finished racing Superbikes he said, “Now you can do the Island Classic” and I went, “Oh, what’s that about?” And the first year I retired, or was that a retirement? In a week? Anyway I came around, and rode the Irving Vincent and that was fantastic and then I’ve had a long relationship with Suzuki, so it was only fitting to move on and ride a Suzuki, a Suzuki Katana.
“It’s just great to be here and to see the English come out with a strong team this year, I felt we were going to be struggling a bit and I just put my head down in that last race and tried as hard as I could possibly try, probably rode harder than I’ve ever had to ride ever before (laughs).”
Then Jeremy stole the microphone, “I knew I was in trouble when I saw Shawn coming down last out of the pits, him and I last out of the pits, and as he came down to take his slot on the grid he was beating his friggin’ chest, (crowd laughs), I go, “Oh shit, I’m in trouble here!”
Shawn again, “Yeah, I had to work myself up a bit, but it’s something that I’ve always done for a while, but you know it’s full credit to the Australian guys in my team, we couldn’t do it without them, all the good riders we have and I’d just like to thank everyone for coming to this meeting, because it’s fantastic and it’s like a World Championship and hopefully it will grow and grow and get bigger and bigger and thanks to Phillip Island for putting on such a special meeting and I’m sort of speechless a bit, because I didn’t think I’d be up here, I thought Cam would have been up here, and unfortunately, yeah, he didn’t finish that last race, but I was trying everything to get the Aussies up here to win, so thanks very much to everyone for being here and thanks to Jeremy, he’s got the brownies so yeah, that’s great. See ya!”
|1||Shawn GILES (NSW)||38||38||39||40||155|
|2||Jeremy McWILLIAMS (UK)||40||40||37||38||155|
|3||Brendan ROBERTS (SA)||35||37||38||39||149|
|4||Beau BEATON (VIC)||37||35||34||37||143|
|5||John McGUINNESS (UK)||34||33||33||34||134|
|6||Mike EDWARDS (UK)||33||32||32||35||132|
|7||Michael DIBB (VIC)||32||31||31||33||127|
|8||Cameron DONALD (VIC)||39||39||40||0||118|
|9||Gary JOHNSON (UK)||36||36||36||0||108|
|10||Steve MARTIN (VIC)||0||34||35||36||105|
|11||Malcolm CAMPBELL (TAS)||13||30||30||32||105|
|12||Laurie FYFFE (NSW)||24||25||18||29||96|
|13||Scott WEBSTER (VIC)||28||0||29||31||88|
|14||Dave WOOLAMS (UK)||22||20||22||24||88|
|15||Damien KAVNEY (QLD)||0||28||28||30||86|
|16||Rob MESA (USA)||19||21||20||25||85|
|17||Mark McVEIGH (QLD)||21||22||16||22||81|
|18||James McKAY (USA)||25||0||24||28||77|
|19||David CRUSSELL (USA)||18||19||21||19||77|
|20||Mick MOLONEY (VIC)||26||27||23||0||76|