The 2019 running of the Island Classic saw another highly successful event at the famous Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, boasting international legends of motorcycling on a bevvy of rare and precious classic machinery.
There was plenty going on over the weekend, with over 50 races, so here’s a look at some of the smaller classes, which while not as renowned as the International Challenge, still feature amazing racing and incredible machines.
350cc Forgotten Era
While the focus is regularly on the Unlimited capacity class in Forgotten Era, which is not unexpected with bikes that are easy to source and easy to tune, the 350 class is one that is sometimes overlooked.
The 350 class is dominated by true period Grand Prix class TZ350s and regularly puts on some of the best racing of the weekend, making it something not to miss.
However for 2019, with the loss of leaded race fuels (the 40+ year diet of 350GP bikes!) kicking in, there was a chance that this class could be a lottery as riders and tuners got to grips with the various replacements that have come to light.
While there was a little mechanical mayhem which unfortunately beset a couple of front runners, including Kiwi Steve Brown and Taswegian Grant Boxhall, the fuel change didn’t put a damper on proceedings.
The headline should read ‘Lachlan Hill Dominates Again’, but that would ignore the enormous efforts that class newcomer Keo Watson put in riding Western Australian Neil Robinson’s immaculate TZ350.
Lachie has dominated the class for five years and rightly so, with his riding efforts, but also a willingness to develop his bike, which has put him less than 1/10th of a second outside the lap record.
In 2019 Lachlan took four wins from four races and his excitement in doing so was visible on the last lap of race four.
However, Keo Watson wasn’t concerned with reputations and methodically went about taking the fight to Hill with three strong second place finishes. Racing saw Watson get ahead of Hill a number of times, including in a spectacular Race 2 on Saturday afternoon.
Watson led on the last lap and after trying a move at the exit of Turn 2, finally making a pass under brakes at the Turn 4 hairpin on the last lap. The pace was strong enough that Hill reset his own personal best lap time and had a moment or two at MG.
By race four, Hill was in a relatively safe position on points for the class at 75 to Watson’s 60, but he would have had one eye on the Phil Irving Trophy as well. For four laps Watson and Hill were hardly separated, until suddenly there was only one of them.
A tyre experiment for the last race proved costly with Watson tucking the front and low siding at Hayshed, leaving Hill a very large gap over second placed Christopher Hayward. This one DNF unfortunately dropping Keo Watson from second down to sixth overall for the weekend.
Forgotten Era 350 for years has also had a strong Kiwi presence, fielding many riders in the class every year for 19 of the 26 years the event has run. 2019 was no different with eight riders and they were somewhat hampered by only being able to tune for the new fuels from Thursday onwards. However they were well on the case by Friday, though many of the team had made use of the exceptional talents of Bruce Woodley of Powerflow Engineering to keep things under control.
Jock Woodley was the most consistent of these, again landing third place overall with four strong rides – the same overall result as 2018. Chris Hayward had a number of lonely rides for second overall.
The unlimited Classic bikes were run concurrently with the Forgotten Era with Garth Francis taking four class wins on his 750 Norton, mixing it with the mid-field TZ350s.
350cc Forgotten Era / Unl Classic Race 1
Lachlan HILL (VIC) 7:28.326
Keo WATSON (NSW) +0.226
Christopher HAYWARD (SA) +9.698
Jock WOODLEY (NZ) +18.418
Trevor TAYLOR (NZ) +43.875
Garth FRANCIS (VIC) +43.933
Andrew McLAREN (NZ) +53.017
Andrew PITMAN (SA) +54.228
Jason HOWCROFT (NZ) +54.249
Bob SAYER (NSW) +1:06.492
350cc Forgotten Era / Unl Classic Race 2
Lachlan HILL (VIC) 9:10.046
Keo WATSON (NSW) +0.528
Steven BROWN (NZ) +20.106
Christopher HAYWARD (SA) +24.079
Grant BOXHALL (TAS) +51.375
Trevor TAYLOR (NZ) +57.771
Andrew McLAREN (NZ) +58.408
Andrew PITMAN (SA) +1:01.021
Jason HOWCROFT (NZ) +1:06.185
350cc Forgotten Era / Unl Classic Race 3
Lachlan HILL (VIC) 7:16.508
Keo WATSON (NSW) +13.392
Christopher HAYWARD (SA) +18.027
Jock WOODLEY (NZ) +38.496
Andrew McLAREN (NZ) +45.835
Trevor TAYLOR (NZ) +56.749
Robert HEATHER (VIC) +1:00.192
Jason HOWCROFT (NZ) +1:00.937
Garth FRANCIS (VIC) +1:09.734
Andrew PITMAN (SA) +1:10.471
350cc Forgotten Era / Unl Classic Race 4
Lachlan HILL (VIC) 9:07.796
Christopher HAYWARD (SA) +18.391
Jock WOODLEY (NZ) +40.970
Andrew McLAREN (NZ) +53.058
Andrew PITMAN (SA) +53.714
Trevor TAYLOR (NZ) +59.035
Jason HOWCROFT (NZ) +1:06.288
Kevin McDONALD (NZ) +1:07.944
Phil OADES (NZ) +1:20.652
Garth FRANCIS (VIC) +1:30.929
350cc Forgotten Era Standings
Lachlan HILL 100 points
Christopher HAYWARD 73
Jock WOODLEY 68
Andrew McLAREN 61
Trevor TAYLOR 60
Keo WATSON 60
Andrew PITMAN 54
Jason HOWCROFT 51
Phil OADES 42
Kevin McDONALD 34
Unlimited Classic Standings
Garth FRANCIS 100
William MOONEY 70
Dan GLEESON 56
Brendan BURNS 49
Bob SAYER 40
David WEATHERHEAD 18
500 Forgotten Era / Open Post Classic
Based upon current form, the question was going to be who was going to come second?
Current ASBK Supersport 300 champion Tom Bramich on the incredibly reliable Ron Angel Racing Paton 500 was looking too strong to bet against, which was a prediction seen out by the weekend.
The answer as to who would claim second was Keo Watson with four second places, but don’t let the results let you think these were processional. Yes, Bramich was away in race one and two but also had Unlimited Post classic bikes to play with. By Race 3 on Saturday afternoon, Watson was well on to his game and running with Bramich, never more than a second apart the whole race with neither having a speed advantage.
Race 4 saw Tom in a strong position chasing for an overall win, which ensured the clean sweep with Watson second, while Christopher Hayward put in four great rides in third each time for third overall.
Due to an accident in the International Challenge Beau Beaton on the big Irving Vincent didn’t feature in the Unlimited Post Classic past Saturday lunchtime, but in his earlier showing he reset the lap record in race two for a run away win by 10 seconds up over Dean Oughtred on his immaculate Carl Cox Racing / Dynoverks CR750, backing up his win in race one.
With Beaton out for the weekend, Oughtred had a clear run in Race 3, but a DNF in race four let evergreen Laurie Fyffe through for the overall win, with Robert Wallace just missing out pushing him back to third.
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