Major drama unfolded at the start of the second International Challenge race at Phillip Island this afternoon with Steve Martin pulling off the grid atop a very rough running Katana, while his teammate and race one winner Shawn Giles did not even manage to finish the warm up lap with some sort of electrical issue. Team Australia was in trouble prior to the race even getting underway!
At least Giles had his race one win to reflect on, while Steve Martin ended the day with a DNF and DNS, and no points in the bank.
“It’s a conglomeration of problems that started from yesterday when I crashed on turn one on somebody’s oil.It destroyed my good motor and unfortunately we did not have a chance to fix it, so we put in a spare motor and it was leaking oil and it was not running right,” said Martin, the former endurance champion who relishes in Island Classic racing.
“Today’s been very average so we are taking the replacement engine out, and we are fixing the engine I qualified on overnight, so hopefully tomorrow we can have a good race.
“I’m a bit paranoid about oil at the moment, so I’m not taking any chances,” said Martin.
Taking up the mantle though was Cameron Donald and Jed Metcher, the duo running very strongly up front, first Donald held sway before Jed got the better of him and started pulling away. Donald’s gearbox then called it quits as he entered turn four for the third time and he was left to limp back to the pits. Another Aussie out of the running…
It looked as though Metcher might run away with it but Jeremy McWilliams had other ideas. Another poor start left McWilliams saw McWilliams fending off determined challenges from Brendan Roberts. Unfortunately the South Australian hit a false neutral entering MG on lap three, just as he was about put a move on McWilliams, instead the gearbox issue sent Roberts off the circuit and across the infield before rejoining in eighth place, his podium hopes dashed.
Metcher rode brilliantly but was eventually chased down by McWilliams in the closing stages of the race, the Northern Irishman taking the win for Team UK by two-tenths of a second over Metcher.
Paul Young made up for his race one crash by bouncing back to a brilliant podium finish on his Harris Honda. Young was a full second a lap slower than the leading duo however, crossing the stripe 6.4-seconds behind the winner, but with an equidistant margin back to Ryan Farquhar in fourth place.
A very relieved and ecstatic Jeremy McWilliams – “I would rather than won with Gilesy, Steve and Cam out there but they have their bike issues, like we all have, but this time around their problems put them out of the race.
“Jed was riding unbelievable, he is a kid I used to manage, so that put a smile on my face dicing with him, he is actually riding better than me in places but I think his tyres went off a little bit.
“Now all we have to do is stay up the top, this result is great for the team and the other boys also finished very well in this race.
“We scored really good points, we took a bit of a hammering in the first one but it’s great to finish with a good result today for the team which will have everyone pumped for tomorrow.”
Australia leads the UK by a narrow seven-point margin heading into tomorrow’s final two International Challenge bouts. Team USA is a further hundred points behind but currently enjoys a three-point buffer over Team NZ.
Jeremy McWilliams leads the individual points tally for the Ken Wootton Perpetual Trophy by three-points over Jed Metcher.
The AMCN International Island Classic at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit is the largest historic bike meet in the southern hemisphere. More than 525 bikes will compete in 28 races in final race day, Sunday – with the top riders from the UK, Australia, USA and NZ fighting it out over two, six lap races, to determine the team and individual winner in the Tahbilk International Challenge. Undefeated since the event’s inception in 2005, Australia is hoping for an 11th victory; while McWilliams and Giles shared the victory in the individual title in 2014.
Gates open at 8am with racing from 9am to 5pm at Phillip Island. Tickets at the gate, with kids 15 and under free.
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