QBE Superbike Shootout

Bea Beaton leads Blair and Ago in the Superbike Shootout
Beau Beaton leads Blair and Jim Agombar in the Superbike Shootout

There were also four races for the QBE Superbike Shootout for the Top 16 qualifiers for P5, P6 and Pre Modern machines. There was some absolutely breathtaking racing with up to five riders scraping for the lead. The P6 was won by Aaron Morris on the C&M Motorcycles Yamaha FZR1000. Morris took a clean sweep in the class from Jeremy McWilliams who was riding Roger Winfield’s familiar Suzuki XR69. Kiwi, Grant Skachill on his pristine Bimoto YP8 was third.

Beau Beaton took out the P5 class on the Irving Vincent from Jed Metcher on the T-Rex Honda. Jay Lawrence on his immaculate Katana took third but it was up in the air until the final fourth leg.

Corser had been on track to take out the class after a run of 3-2-1 in the previous legs and was leading the final P5 leg when it all came unstuck. Just after scoring his fastest lap of the weekend, and sitting second outright behind Skachill’s Bimota while looking very comfortable, the engine in his XR69 went off song, Corser pulled out at the sound of trouble and the chance of the class win evaporated.

The QBE Superbike Shootout Pre-Modern class was won by Daniel Birch from Michael Cook and Harley Borkowski third.

In the separate P5 Unlimited class, after three wins and a second in the four heats Corser was well on the way to chance of another class win, but was a non-starter in the final leg due to the injury to the engine of Dermody’s XR69 a couple of races earlier. Even with a DNS, Corser finished on equal points with Kiwi Jay Lawrence for the honour while Jed Metcher was third overall.

Corser had a disappointing end to his Superbike aspirations in the P5 class, with engine problems forcing him to retire
Corser had a disappointing end to his aspirations in the P5 class, with engine problems forcing him to retire, but took second overall nonetheless

Two-Stroke GP Class

A very welcome addition to the programme this year was the introduction of a two-stroke GP bikes class, open to GP bikes (or replicas) from 350cc up to 1300cc. For a few years now, there has been a number of requests for a two-stroke only race to be introduced at classic meetings and finally it has happened.

It is aimed squarely at the iconic Yamaha TZ750s, and the numbers are growing as an Australian company, Consortium Racing has been manufacturing high precision engine cases, etc for the 750s.

McWilliams on the Wheatfield Suzuki RGB500 two-stroke
McWilliams on the Wheatfield Suzuki RGB500 two-stroke

There were five Yamaha TZ750s on the grid; John Allen on Terry McKinnon’s pristine version, Craig Ditchburn on the official Consortium racing entry, Jimmy Agombar on a Spondon-framed TZ750 and Michael Blair on the Neil Bird owned TZ750. The rest were all 350s – except for two exceptions. Jeremy McWilliams entered the class on one of Wheatfield’s Suzuki RGB500s, but unfortunately only finished the opening race, albeit in second place.

The other was on Saturday afternoon when a very special moment occurred – maybe even the moment of the weekend. Troy Corser rolled out of pit lane in heat 3 on the very same Yamaha YZR500 that Kevin Magee’s finished second in the 1992 All Japan Championship behind Daryl Beattie. It was the first time that anyone, besides Magoo, had ridden the bike, so for many, it was a very momentous occasion.

A very special moment when Corser raced Magee's second place winning 1992 All Japan Championship YZR500in the Two-Stroke GP class
A very special moment when Corser raced Magee’s second place winning 1992 All Japan Championship YZR500in the Two-Stroke GP class – Image by SDpics

TC started from the rear of the grid but didn’t run a transponder so he didn’t take points off other riders in the class. As he took off, owner Tom Dermody, chief mechanic Paul Treacy – who worked with Magee in the Lucky Strike Team – and Magoo leant up on pit wall to watch proceedings.

It was truly a magnificent sight as Corser didn’t just ride around. He raced it. Simply magic as he scythed his way through the pack to be up with the leaders.

Troy Corser, and his Dad Steve in the background
Troy Corser, and his Dad Steve in the background
Troy Corser

“It was a fantastic thrill to ride the bike. I always wanted to ride a YZF500 again after what happened in ’97. What a bike. So much power and so light. I had it spinning up a few times especially around Corporate Hill!”

Owner, Dermody gave him the nod to ride it again on the Sunday but the next day after closer inspection of the log books decided against it as the engine was getting close to a piston change so they didn’t want to risk any damage to the historic and virtually irreplaceable machine.

Corser and McWilliams neck and neck
Corser and McWilliams neck and neck

Over the weekend, Corser demonstrated that he has still got it. In bucketloads. His mastery of a bike – any bike he throws a leg over, and he tried many – is incredible. He would still be competitive in any championship.

It wasn’t lost on the lovable Irishman, Dermody, who extended an open invitation to the bloke from Albion Park to race any of his bikes, any time he desires.


Legends Dinner

There is more to the event than the on-track celebrations. On the Thursday night of the event, there was a dinner where Alan Cathcart interviewed all the stars of the show for a night of memories and surprises. The biggest surprise to many was to learn that Superbikes were born in Australia before it kicked off in America, where many thought it was first launched.

Alan Cathcart interviews Vince and Jim at the Legends Dinner
Alan Cathcart interviews Vince Tesoriero and Jim Scaysbrook at the Legends Dinner

To assist in the clarification, one of the guests on the night was the man responsible for the Castrol 6-Hour, Mr Motocross and the Chesterfield Superbike Series, Vince Tesoriero. Vince explained in detail how Superbike racing came about as an extension of the Castrol 6-Hr and the events that it gave birth to, as well as the modifications that were permitted in comparison to the production endurance events.

Vince also disclosed that the man often given credit for the birth of Superbike racing, American Steve McLaughlin, actually asked Vince if it was OK if he started a series in the States, basing the bikes on the same rules that were current at the time in Australia.

Pierfrancesco Chili, Troy Corser and Alan Cathcart
Pierfrancesco Chili, Troy Corser and Alan Cathcart at the Legends Dinner

The camaraderie and banter between the riders – who often went head to head in battle on tracks around the world – and the mechanics that worked on the bikes, and anyone else in the vicinity, is hilarious. Every moment is a complete piss-take and one has to be on your toes to avoid being the butt of a joke. The laugh-a-minute antics of those involved are another huge highlight of a very special weekend.

A few of the larrikins saying ‘Hi' (L-R Franki Chili, Steve Parrish Jeremy McWilliams and Troy Corser
A few of the larrikins saying ‘Hi’ (L-R Franki Chili, Steve Parrish Jeremy McWilliams and Troy Corser

Now to wait 12 months for the IFOS to come around again. What is in store for the next chapter? Details haven’t yet been finalised but whatever the theme for 2019, it is certain to be something special.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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