The Island Classic and its high profile International Challenge events have become perhaps the most loved event on the Australian motorcycling calendar.
However after campaigning a UK team so successfully over more than a decade – with three title wins from 2015-2017 – Roger Winfield, the man behind all those amazing Harris framed machines ridden by stars such as Jeremy McWilliams, is unable to commit to a 2019 UK squad due to budget restrictions.
New Australian legislation banning aviation fuel in motorsport from January 2019 has also played its part in the decision as the UK squad’s engines are specifically built for the fuel they are allowed to run in the UK, and up until now had been allowed to use in Australia.
If you love motorcycles, this is the event for you with the southern hemisphere’s largest historic motorcycle meet, the International Island Classic, set to return to Victoria’s Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit next Australia Day long weekend, January 25-27.
The International Challenge though will still return with teams from Australia, the USA and New Zealand confirmed for battle.
Current champions, Australia, is set to defend their precious International Challenge title – won back from the UK last January after an outstanding performance led by David Johnson. Johnson has told team captain Rex Wolfenden he’s keen to return, as are stalwarts Beau Beaton, Steve Martin, Shawn Giles and Cam Donald.
International line-ups are taking shape with the USA promising the return of Jason Pridmore, Jake Zemke and Barrett Long with the squad already immersed in testing. New Zealand has Damien Kavney and Glenn Hindle back on board to head the Kiwi effort.
According to Fergus Cameron, managing director of the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit, other UK team options are being explored.
“We’ve loved having Roger and his team at the Island Classic for well over ten years but with the ban on aviation gas, we understand their reticence to compete,” said Cameron.
“We have UK riders that 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.
“We’re well underway planning another great long-weekend of racing, with plenty of bikes, plenty of bike chatter and plenty of two-wheel heroics to enjoy so it’s time to plan a summer getaway to the island.”
Featuring a century of motorcycles from pre-war machines through to the new era makes, the 26th International Island Classic will see an expected 500 historic bikes and 300 riders compete in 56 races over a massive three days.
Tickets for the 26th running of the International Island Classic, the largest historic bike meet in the southern hemisphere, will go on sale October 2018.
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