Phillip Island to host 8 hour endurance race
Australia’s long and rich association with motorcycle endurance racing is set to take on a bold new direction when Victoria’s Phillip Island hosts an eight-hour event on December 2-4.
The 2011 Australian 8 Hour Endurance Championship will be held during daylight hours, starting at 9:30am and finishing at 5:30pm. It will be open to all the major classes which compete in the Australian Superbike Championship, including Superbike and Supersport.
The event is presented by Insure My Ride and will be packaged into a two-hour television program, which will be broadcast on motorsport channel SPEED.
In line with many of the events on the world endurance calendar, including the iconic Suzuka 8 Hour in Japan, Phillip Island will begin with a popular Le Mans grid, which requires riders to run across the track before starting their machines and hitting speed.
All teams will be required to have a minimum of three riders, and final qualifying for the top teams on Saturday will be a cut-throat 20-minute session, which will determine the Le Mans grid for the Sunday morning start.
Although endurance racing formally returned to Phillip Island in 2010 when Wayne Maxwell and Josh Brookes emerged victorious in a cliff-hanger six-hour, the longer version of road racing at the circuit goes back to when it held rounds of the Endurance World Championship in 1991 and 1992 – just a few years after it was refurbished and reopened.
The first one, was won by Australia’s very own Robbie Phillis who combined with Frenchman Jean-Louis Battistini, and the following year British pair Terry Rymer and Carl Fogarty scored the honours to make it two wins in a row for Kawasaki.
But Australia really cut its endurance racing teeth in the 1970s and 1980s, when the Castrol 6 Hour production race was one of the blue-chip events on the local calendar, regularly attracting elite international riders and Australia’s finest such as Wayne Gardner and Kevin Magee.
The 6 Hour races at Amaroo Park, and then later at Oran Park, were full of magic moments and fierce contests — as well as tales of triumph and torture.
It’s that wonderful unpredictability which makes endurance racing such an exciting spectacle, and why 160,000 people have been known to line the Suzuka circuit for its annual showpiece.
And it’s no coincidence that the Phillip Island 8 Hour is modelling itself on the Suzuka event, as in the future the circuit would like to be reinstated onto the world endurance calendar.
“We are in this event for the long haul, and we’d like to attract more international teams in the next few years,” said Phillip Island Managing Director Fergus Cameron. “That will help to build a bigger and stronger brand, and with that we hope to draw a round of the Endurance World Championship, on top of the World Superbike and MotoGP events we already successfully host.”
Entries for the 2011 Australian 8 Hour Endurance Championship are now open to Superbike, Supersport, Superstock 1000, Superstock 600 and Bears competitors, with a number of support races on the Friday and Saturday.
For more information, visit www.phillipisland8hour.com.au or tel (03) 5952 2710.