Island Classic 2017 – International Challenge Race One
By Trevor Hedge
The Island Classic would not be the Island Classic without a dose of controvery to colour proceedings. The conjecture this morning provided by rival Team Captains descending on the Team UK pit garage to question the use of flatslide carburettors on the #99 Harris Yamaha of Jeremy McWilliams.
Team UK machines are generally prepared to the same rule book used at the Isle of Man Classic TT, where carburettors are open. The particular set of carburettors in use in this case are the same as was run on Ryan Farquhar’s bike last year, and were transferred to the McWilliams machine when the bikes were being prepared back in the UK ahead of this event.
Top speeds are actually a little slower this year, and with their modest 36mm bore size it seems unlikely there would be any major power advantage achieved. In this instance, the accelerator pumps are not connected, as Winfield had not taken the time to fine tune those on a dyno prior to shipping the bikes to Australia.
Team Captains are set to have another meeting this evening to try and clarify the issue, but it highlights once again the lack of clear direction for the class and the need for a standard set of rules. Whether that means that, in Australia, we just follow the rules used at the Classic TT, the largest high profile event for such machinery in the world, where the regulations are quite open, or, instead, go our own way. I know which way I would suggest makes sense…
Alex Phillis got away well, but was quickly gazumped by McWilliams as the pole-setter stamped his dominance straight away. Shawn Giles, Beau Beaton, Jed Metcher and Chas Hern were giving chase.
As they crossed the stripe to commence lap two McWilliams had stretched his advantage out ot 0.645 of a second over Phillis and Giles, that trio all in the 1m44s bracket from a standing start.
Beau Beaton’s strong assault on the Irving Vincent came to an early end, another gremlin striking the bespoke machine which has had the Horner boys scratching their heads and chasing problems all weekend. Beaton was clearly frustrated at his misfortune.
McWilliams’ first flying lap a spectacular 1m37.866 and in a class of his own on the Roger Winfield prepared Harris Yamaha. Young Alex Phillis was doing his best to take the challenge up to McWilliams but looked to have the measure of the rest of the field, Giles not managing to stay in touch with Phillis as the race progressed.
Peter Hickman was gathering speed with every lap and with three laps to run had worked his way past Byrne, Hern and then Metcher to claim fourth place and started putting in faster lap times than Giles to threaten the three-time Australian Superbike Champion’s podium contention.
Disaster then struck Alex Phillis, the XR69 Suzuki limping to a halt by the side of the track, a sad ending to a great challenge from the youngster.
Up front it was Jeremy McWilliams on his lonesome, with two laps to go the Northern Irish start had more than four-seconds on Giles, who had inherited that second place after the unfortunate demise of Phillis. But McWilliams eased off on the final lap which saw the final gap register at 2.25-seconds, while the actual race pace difference was double that.
Hickman tried hard to close down Giles to challenge for that second position but couldn’t get quite close enough and had to settle for an excellent third place. Conor Cummins was a strong finisher, making his way past a number of the Australian team to claim fourth place ahead of Metcher, an important result for the team tally.
Alex Phillis’ was really strong before his retirement, he looks to be shaping up as the quickest rider for Team Australia today. Conor Cummins, like Phillis, also recorded a 1m38.43 as he marched his way through the field to claim that fourth place from Metcher.
While McWilliams was the only man to put in a 1m37 in that bout, there were a number of riders in the 1m38s; Giles (38.91), Hickman (38.62), Cummins (38.43), Richards (38.86), Byrne (38.58), and non finisher Phillis a 1m38.435 on his only flying lap before this machine cried enough.
Phillis’ retirement was caused by a puncture, possibly when he was forced wide by another rider on the warm-up lap.
Island Classic 2017 – International Challenge Race One Results
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.