2017 International Island Classic support classes
New Era – 500cc Post Classic – Invitational P6 – By Mark Bracks, Images: Cameron White
While the focus of the Island Classic is the International Challenge category with the living legends on track, it is the support classes that make up the vast majority of entries. Without them – the mainstay of road racing – there is no way that the event could take place.
So, instead of just a quick overview of the classes, here is a little more in-depth look at the racing and the passion at the core of competitors that have supported historic racing for years.
It is not only the premier class that has excellent racing, so let’s continue the commitment of MCNews.com.au to report on events that are often given scant coverage, in Part 3 we cover the 250 New Era and New Era Production; 500 Post Classic and 500 New Era; New Era Formula 1300 and Invitational P6 Open, New Era Formula 750.
The grouping of categories represents the classes that were out on track racing in the same races, with separate point scores for each class.
250 New Era and New Era Production
A somewhat unique category, purebred GP bikes mix with the high revving production machines like four-stroke Honda CBR250RRs and two-stroke Honda NSR250 GP road replica versions.
Brett Simmonds, a Taswegian regular frontrunner in the 125cc GP category of the Aussie championship in the noughties, was the outright favourite after winning on his ex-GP Honda RS250 at the 2016 Oz Historic titles last November.
The racing gods had other ideas though, as after grabbing pole and taking a commanding lead early in the first leg, he coasted into the pits at the end of lap one. Yet another victim of the first race curse that nobbled many front runner’s attempts to win.
Simmonds made up for it winning the remaining three heats in commanding fashion, but Scott Sullivan’s (Yamaha TZW250) consistency with a win and threes second places was enough to claim the overall with visiting UK man, Rob Temple’s 2-4-3-4 impressive placings earning third.
The Proddie bikes were not too far off the pace of Sullivan, Temple and John Hazeldine on the GP bikes, with Glenn Kelleher and Glenn Chandler giving the more race orientated machines a good run.
Although Kelleher had three wins, he was another that was thwarted in his efforts by a mechanical DNF in the second leg that allowed Sullivan the overall. Ryan Young (Honda NSR250) was third.
250cc New Era
- Scott Sullivan (Qld) – 85
- Brett Simmonds (Tas) – 75
- Rob Temple (UK) – 72
250cc New Era Production
- Glenn Chandler (Qld) – 85
- Glen Kellaher (NSW) – 75
- Ryan Young (NSW) – 74
500 Post Classic and 500 New Era
The Post Classic class had some very fine exotica competing with the three Egli Vincent that were piloted by Levi Day, Cam Donald and visiting Welshman Alex Sinclair. It wasn’t all plain sailing for Donald, as he had a few issues with his machine that saw him not finish race three.
Tom Bramich and the older model Paton have been the dominate force in this class in recent years and he is defending Australian Champion in two classes aboard the Paton.
But Craig Ditchburn on his Seeley Yamaha 500 did the two-strokes proud and pulled the rug from underneath Bramich, winning the first two races. He followed this up with 2-3 results, enough for Ditchburn to claim the class victory.
Bramich uncharacteristically only won a single race with the other leg won by Richard Molnar on a machine of his own design – the Molnar Manx 499.
The 500cc New Era is dominated by four-cylinder 400cc machines but Damien Mackie on his Suzuki RG500 street version is a regular front runner. He was very determined to make up for the disappointment of his 2016 New Era results.
Unfortunately, it was more of the same this year as he won the first leg from Brendan Wilson on his Honda VFR400. Positions were then reversed in leg two in a very exciting race were the pair broke the lap record three times in five laps.
However, in leg three Mackie didn’t complete a lap coasting to a halt on the entrance to T12. The two-stroke may have gone but the battles between Wilson, Tim Podt and Phil Burke (father of Superbike rider, Ben) were excellent.
500cc Post Classic
- Craig Ditchburn (Vic) – 88
- Tom Bramich (Vic) – 83
- Levi Day (SA) – 67
500cc New Era
- Brendan Wilson (Vic) – 95
- Tim Podt (Vic) – 73
- Phil Burke (NSW) – 72
New Era Formula 1300 and Invitational P6 Open, New Era Formula 750
The New Era big bore categories, both sponsored by Pablo’s Tyres, are gaining momentum and it won’t be too long before we have a similar situation of over-subscribed fields necessitating split grids and races.
At the moment there are two classes with up to 750cc (for V-Twins it’s a 1000cc) and up to 1300cc. Both classes were well patronised, with 30 entries (with some cross-entries) in the 1300cc class, and 26 in the 750cc class.
The 1300cc featured an Invitational Open Class as well but it only had two entries: Dean Oughtred’s Carl Cox Motorsports outfit teammate Michael Neeves on the very potent Suzuki GSX1100, and Queenslander John Cooper who only completed one race.
The races were dominated by Chas Hern on Rex Wolfenden’s Bimota YB 1200 although he had to work for the wins. His charge was thwarted by a team mistake when bike ran out of petrol with a 2.8 second lead in the second leg! One consolation for this faux pas was setting a new lap record for the class.
The first race was a hard contest between Oughtred, Hern and Adrian Digiandomenico (Yamaha FZR 1029) over the four laps. But it was Hern who took the win from Digi, with Oughtred third.
The second leg started with drama on the first lap as Digiandomenico impersonated the space shuttle when he high sided out of MG Corner, bringing out Racesafe for Digi and the red flag to restart the race. It was his exit from the meeting.
The restart was a carbon copy as Oughtred got the jump off the line then Hern took the lead by Honda Corner. At the start of the fourth lap Hern coasted to a halt on the outside of Doohan Corner with Neeves inheriting the lead with Oughtred second.
This inspired Campbell as he upped the ante to close the gap on the leading pair. The way the team trio were dusting each other up, Carl Cox must’ve been a nervous man, but it was all good, clean, rapid fun.
After five intense laps the trio crossed the line within inches of each other, Neeves claiming the closest win of the weekend with a 0.003 gap to his team mate, with Campbell on the 750 just 0.552s away in third.
The attrition hit in leg three with Neeves not fronting and Campbell also a non-starter, ruining his chances of a top three finish. Hern won by over five seconds from Oughtred, with Alex Pickett (Yamaha FZR1000) ever improving. He held off the veteran Murray Clark by a few thousands of a second for third.
Campbell made it out for the final leg and Oughtred managed to launch the Suzuki off the line. He eked out a little lead for over a lap before Hern moved into the lead, to take the win by a commanding gap of seven seconds with Campbell grabbing another third.
The 750cc class seemed a bit hollow this year with the absence of Mal Campbell but his son and defending IC champion, Scott Campbell on his ever reliable Honda RC30 put on a comprehensive exhibition. He won all four races, three in a canter – one by five seconds after the imposition of a 10 second, jump start penalty!
James Doddrell, also on an RC30 put up a good show to finish second in every race from Jack Twisse who was third in every race for third overall.
New Era Formula 1300
- Dean Oughtred (Vic) – 83
- Chas Hern (Vic) – 75
- Murray Clark (NSW) – 64
- Mick Neeves (UK) – 50
- John Cooper (Qld) – 20
New Era Formula 750
- Scott Campbell (Tas) – 100
- James Doddrell (SA) – 80
- Jack Twisse (Vic) – 72