Cam Donald streaked away to a significant lead right from the off in the third International Challenge bout at the 2014 Island Classic. John McGuinness looked to have found some new form with a great start and was quickly in the mix.
Shawn Giles really wound up the 1294cc Katana on lap two to close right on to Donald’s rear tyre. The fastest man on the circuit though was Brendan Roberts, on another one of the TBR Katanas, a 1m37.895 on his first flying lap but he still had plenty of work to do with Donald and Giles enjoying a 1.5 second lead.
Jeremy McWilliams started okay but his bike ignition cut sharply at turn three and Shawn Giles only narrowly avoided running into him in what was a heart stopping moment in which the Northern Irishman lost a few positions. McWilliams eventually recovered and got down to business with a 1m37.4 on lap three to pull some ground back on fourth placed Gary Johnson. McGuinness lost a number of places as the race progressed and Steve Martin appeared to be struggling for grip in sixth place, investigation after the race suggested that perhaps the rear tyre pressure had been a little too high for best performance.
Roberts continued to set the pace with a 1m37.175 on lap three to close to within striking distance of Donald and Giles. Roberts had a thrust at them in to turn one the next time around after backing that 1m37.17 up with a 1m37.23. Another man on the move was McWilliams after putting in a 1m37.27 on the Harris F1 machine to take fourth place from Johnson.
The leading triumvirate got the last lap board virtually line abreast and then negotiated the Phillip Island circuit in close quarters right around the back of the circuit as they set up for the run through turn 11 and 12… It was Donald who won by a nose, only 0.044 of a second ahead of Giles with both men putting their fastest lap of the race in on the final lap. Roberts couldn’t quite get there to challenge for the win at the stripe, the South Australian taking third place 0.263 of a second behind the winner.
Jeremy McWilliams was certainly on the pace later in the race with a 1m37.21 on the final lap but finished 1.22 seconds behind the winner. Johnson took fifth place ahead of Martin, Beaton, McGuinness, Edwards and Dibb. The top finishing Team NZ entrant was Damian Kavney in 13th place on a 1980 XR69 Suzuki while the top finishing rider from Team America was 1978 Kawasaki Z1-R mounted James McKay in 17th place.
With one race to go Donald led on individual points by a single point over McWilliams, with Giles a further three-points adrift so it will all come down to this afternoon’s final stanza.
Unofficial Team Standings are; Australia 550, UK 510, NZ 334, America 228
Island Classic 2014 – International Challenge – Race Three Pos Num Rider Class Machine Lap Int 1 Int 2 Finish Lap Time Fastest Speed
1 86 Cameron DONALD AU 1981 Suzuki XR69 1260 6 Leader Leader Leader 1:37.763 1:37.763 269
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