Bronzed MotoGP stars to welcome tourists at Phillip Island
The bronze busts of Australia’s three motorcycling World Champions have been moved to their permanent home at the Phillip Island Visitor Information Centre at Newhaven.
The busts of Wayne Gardner AM, Mick Doohan AM and Casey Stoner AM were officially unveiled during a ceremony at the 2014 Tissot Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix in October last year.
The three men all won the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island and their successes at the iconic circuit and on the world stage changed the face of motorcycling in Australia forever.
The busts are expected to become a tourist attraction as their new home is considered as the gateway to Phillip Island with more than 1,000 people visiting each day during peak season.
Bass Coast Shire Council Mayor, Cr Kimberley Brown, said she was delighted by the new addition to the Phillip Island Visitor Information Centre.
“The bronze busts will contribute to the growth in tourism and cement Phillip Island’s identity as the home of motorcycle sport in Australia, as well as be an attraction for fans of the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, not only during the event itself, but across the whole year.”
Gardner was responsible for bringing the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix to Phillip Island in 1989 on the strength of his 1987 World Championship victory, appropriately claiming the next two Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix titles.
Compatriot Mick Doohan took Gardner’s lead and made Australia the dominant force in the sport with an incredible five consecutive titles of his own. Doohan is a true legend of motorcycle racing; his Honda dominated the 500cc World Championship in the mid-nineties amassing 54 Grand Prix victories.
Casey Stoner, Australia’s most recent title holder was not only crowned World Champion twice, but made history with six successive Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix wins at Phillip Island. World Champion in 2007 and 2011, Casey Stoner collected 38 victories in the premier class for Ducati and Honda.
500cc World Champion Wayne Gardner AM – “I’m very lucky that my career and World Championship success captured the nation’s enthusiasm and this event was established because of it. The challenge then was to go out and win the races, and I took great pleasure in winning those first two events.”
500cc World Champion Mick Doohan AM – “What can I say; it’s not something you start out your career ever expecting. It’s a surreal experience to see yourself this way, in bronze. It takes your breath away, it’s a great honour.”
“When I look back at the amount of success I had in my career, the fact that I was only able to conquer Phillip Island once speaks volumes about what it means to win here. That victory in 1998 is one of my fondest memories.”
MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner AM – “It’s nice to be back at Phillip Island where I have so many fantastic memories and it’s a great honour to be immortalised in bronze with this sculpture, so thanks to Barbara for doing such a great job!”
“Along with having turn three named after me I’m really thankful to the Australian public and everyone at the AGPC for recognising the part I’ve played in international motorcycling on behalf of my country.”
The Minister for Tourism and Major Events, John Eren, said the bronze busts would provide yet another compelling drawcard for one of Victoria’s most visited and renowned regional tourism destinations.
“It’s fantastic that these great Australian motorcycle champions are being honoured here in Phillip Island, the home of the largest international sporting event held in Regional Australia. It’s a perfect fit,” Minister Eren said.
Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO, Andrew Westacott, said, “These men deserve to be celebrated for the great feats they have achieved on the world stage; it’s so pleasing that both locals and visitors to Phillip Island can now pay tribute to their success.”
“We thank the Bass Coast Shire for its ongoing commitment to, and support of motorsport in this country; it’s a pleasure to work with them each year when we host the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island.”
Motorcycling Australia CEO Dale Gilson, said, “The bronze busts are a great recognition of the contribution of Wayne, Mick and Casey and the impact they have had on world motorsport. We are proud to honour them with the bronze busts.”