Irish line-up for Island Classic 2016 International Challenge firms up
Known for their wicked humour, the Irish always liven up a party, and it seems the new addition to the International Challenge grid, a national team from Ireland, are ready for a racing good-time at next January’s 23rd AMCN International Island Classic.
“No disrespect to our team, but we’re not superstars!” joked team captain, Mike Meskell, the driving force behind the Irish entry for the January 22-24 event. “We’re a bunch of enthusiastic racers who fancy having a go.”
Playing the underdog might be Meskell’s crafty strategy, considering his team boasts 44 year old Hilton Hincks who has 11 Irish championships under his belt across 250 GP, Supersport 600 and Superbike plus a race log that include the European and Britain 250GP, British Superbike and World Endurance Championships. Add to that, Hincks holds the lap record in each class and the outright lap record at all of Ireland’s circuits.
Also in the line-up is Cormac Conroy, the 2014 British classic champion in two classes who will campaign a XR69 Kawasaki; and Paul Byrne on a MacIntosh Suzuki.
Thirty year old Byrne moved from Ireland to Australia in 2010 and has made his mark locally, wrapping up the Australasian Superbike Formula Oz Championship at Winton last month with a dominant display. He’s raced at the island before – at the 8 hour in 2011 – but next January’s Island Classic will be Byrne’s first outing on a classic bike.
Ireland’s entry brings to five the teams competing in the International Challenge, with national representation from defending champions, the UK, Australia, the USA, NZ and Ireland. Eight competitors will race for each country to make a competitive grid of 40.
Whatever happens race wise, the Irish are certainly organised and determined. It was only last January that Meskell visited the Classic for the first time and he’s already recruited his team, prepared their bikes and loaded them on a boat for Australia.
“It’s a mixture of a dream coming true and, on the other side, a major challenge,” said 55 year old Meskell who hails from county Clare and will race a Suzuki Katana at the island.
“From tentative talks with Fergus Cameron only nine months ago, to the reality of it actually happening, is a bit surreal. We’ve had to beg, borrow and almost steal to make this happen.
“As “newbies” we probably have to make our mark this year in order to get assistance in the future. Fergus and crew have been very accommodating and helped us out with the transportation of our bikes. In fact, we just loaded our container and sent it on its way to the island yesterday.
“We hope to put on a good show as a team and if everything goes to plan we might surprise a few people.
“Everyone is paying their own way and looking to enjoy the experience of racing at such an iconic venue.It is an awesome track, so smooth and the speed is amazing. I loved my first ride last year and I can’t wait to get back.”
For tickets go to www.islandclassic.com.au or call the circuit on (03) 5952 2710 on weekdays.
Ireland International Challenge Team – Island Classic 2016
- Hilton Hincks – Macintosh Kawasaki
- Cormac Conroy – XR69 Kawasaki
- Paul Byrne – Macintosh Suzuki
- Chris Campbell – Kawasaki z1100
- Pat Griffin – Suzuki Katana
- John Walsh – XR 69 Suzuki
- Mark O’Byrne – Nico Bakker Kawasaki
- Trevor Manley – CBX 1000
- Mike Meskell – Suzuki Katana