MotoGP star Jeremy McWilliams to ride at Island Classic
Former MotoGP factory rider Jeremy McWilliams headlines a star-studded rider line-up for the 2011 International Island Classic, to be held at Victoria’s Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on 21-23 January, 2011.
McWilliams joins World Endurance Champions Steve Martin and Warwick Nowland, two-times Australian Superbike Champion Malcolm Campbell, multiple Australian champion Robbie Phillis, Irish champion Ryan Farquhar and Isle of Man TT victor Cameron Donald in a capacity field for the Australian Motorcycle News sponsored 2011 event.
With close to 350 entries for the event, the addition of McWilliams adds further excitement to Australia’s premier Historic motorcycle festival. In 2010 the International Island Classic attracted a record crowd of 19,200, making it Australia’s biggest domestic motorcycle meeting behind only the MotoGP and World SBK events.
McWilliams is no stranger to the fast and flowing Phillip Island circuit, having twice qualified on pole for the premier category in the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, out-qualifying multiple world champion Valentino Rossi on each occasion.
The first time in 2000 McWilliams was on the 500GP Aprilia V-twin, and the second time in 2002 he was aboard the ill-favoured Proton KR3, the first year of the new combined MotoGP 990cc four-stroke and 500GP two-stroke category. McWilliams’ feat in 2002 is all the more impressive as it was the last time a 500cc two-stroke would qualify on pole at the 4.45km circuit.
To underline his liking for the Phillip Island circuit, McWilliams also qualified fastest for the 1999 Australian 250cc Grand Prix at Phillip Island, again ahead of Rossi.
Riders from UK, New Zealand, France, USA and Australia have entered the 2011 International Island Classic, the 18th running of the event, with the International Challenge for bikes built between 1973 and 1982 the feature event on the program.
Martin, the 1999 Australian Superbike Champion, top points scorer in last year’s International Challenge and outright Historic lap record holder for the circuit expects a close battle with McWilliams, and has a new and more powerful Suzuki Superbike for 2011 on which to defend his 2010 title.
“I attended previous Island Classics as a spectator – it’s an amazing event. I’d always wanted to race in it, and last year I finally got a chance.” said Martin, who coincidentally runs the same #99 race number as McWilliams.
The overseas challengers for Martin’s crown are headed by McWilliams and Farquhar, both riding Suzuki XR69 F1 machines.
“In addition to Jeremy’s F1 Suzuki, there are F1 bikes from Harris, P&M and Moriwaki in the UK team line-up, as well as a 930 RPS Triumph and Yamaha TZ750,” said UK team captain Keith Higgs.
“The Aussies won’t know what hit them.”
The outright Historic lap record for the 4.45km circuit – the fastest MotoGP circuit in the world – is held by Martin at 1:40.153, a time he set in 2010 aboard his 1980 Suzuki GSX1100 Superbike.
“We’re into the 40s, which isn’t too bad for a 30-year-old motorcycle,” said Martin. “But I really believe 38s are possible.”
In addition to the International Challenge for 1973-1982 Forgotten Era motorcycles, a full support program for Veteran, Vintage, Classic and Post-classic solos and sidecars will ensure three days of non-stop on-track action at Australia’s premier Historic festival.
For further details on the meeting go to www.phillipislandcircuit.com.au, or tel (03) 5952 2710.