2014 AMCN Island Classic
Is the Island Classic a better race meeting than the MotoGP and WSBK? Many of the 20,000 who turned up in 2013 would say yes. Unlike the two more high-profile meets, the Island Classic brings together a huge range of bikes and riders. There will be in excess of 300 riders on up to 400 bikes.
Also unlike the more formal meets, you can wander around the pit area as you please and see legendary race bikes at close quarters. You’ll also meet the riders, some of who are still world-class racers. A highlight of 2013 was the presence of Giacomo Agostini – proper racing royalty – who did some demonstration laps on a freshly restored MV Agusta.
FROM THE BEGINNING
Motorcycles were raced against each other almost from their invention and the Island Classic is a rare chance to see action from all periods of the past.
Period 1 (Veteran) covers bikes built up to 1919 and Period 2 (Vintage) extends from the end of the Veteran period up to 1945. Harley-Davidsons, Indians, Nortons and Velocettes take to the track and nobody is there to parade – all are trying to win.
Period 3 bikes range from 1946 – 1962 when big singles ruled the world. This class includes Manx Nortons, BSA Goldstars and Matchless G50s. Vincents are in there as well and both Bultaco and Honda have models suitable for the class.
The Post-Classic class (Period 4) introduces bikes manufactured between 1963 and 1972. This class features bikes which were the dream of many spectators: Honda CB750s, Norton Commandos, Triumph Tridents and Japanese bikes including the formidable 500 and 750 Kawasaki two-strokes.
There are classes to include Forgotten Era bikes (Ducati 900SS, Honda CB1100R, Suzuki GSX1100 and the like) along with New Era bikes including Yamaha’s FZR1000 and Suzuki’s GSX-R1100.
The action on the track never stops and it’s an amazing spectacle.
The signature races over the weekend will be part of the International Challenge where teams from Australia, New Zealand, the UK and America accrue points to see which country will be victorious.
The rules have been changed for 2014 to restrict Australia’s traditional dominance. Previously, the team that won the International Challenge scored points from all 10 riders in their team. This disadvantaged some of the international teams which may have had two or three absolute stars but didn’t have the depth of the local talent.
For 2014, the winning country will be determined by points accumulated by the top five riders in each country across the four, six-lap races. This will give teams like the UK a real chance of winning.
You want stars? The Australian team will include Shawn Giles, Steve Martin, Malcolm Campbell and Beau Beaton. MT-sponsored champion Robbie Phillis will also be racing for his country along with MT’s senior road tester, Cam Donald.
Winning won’t be as easy as it looks. The UK team boasts Jeremy McWilliams, Gary Johnson and IoM champion Ryan Farquhar. As announced in MT #275, the UK team will also feature IoM legend John McGuinness.
The NZ team hasn’t been fully determined yet but rumour has it that it will include another IoM hero, Bruce Anstey, who will be riding the McIntosh Suzuki which Cam Donald used to such good effect at the Barry Sheen meeting recently (see Cam’s column in this issue). If Anstey does appear, the combination of him, McGuinness, Donald, Farquhar and Johnson will mean you won’t have to go to the IoM in 2014 to see all the stars.
BIKES TO WATCH
Every bike on the track has its own story but the Island Classic gives you a rare chance to see genuine classics in action. There aren’t that many Yamaha TZ750s still in racing trim but there will be a gang of them at Phillip Island and they’ll all be going hard.
The Irving Vincent will also be there to give the Internationals a hurry-on. It’s worth the admission price alone just to see it race.
You’ve read the story of the resurrection of the Bathurst Replica McIntosh Suzuki in MT already but this could be your chance to see the bike in action. If you bump into Ken McIntosh, ask him when he intends to start producing rolling examples for the road.
Cam Donald will be riding an XR69 Suzuki. The model’s father was Pops Yoshimura way back in 1976. Graeme Crosby was the bike’s early star. He won the Daytona 200 on it 1980 along with the TT Formula One World Championship. In his spare time he picked up the Australian Swann Series and the Suzuka 8-Hour with his co-rider, Wes Cooley.
The bike also triumphed on the IoM with wins for Rob McElnea.
With the right gearing, the humble Suzuki GS engine could drive an XR69 to around 160mph. Aftermarket frame manufacturers got the best from the engine and most of the XR69s you’ll see at Phillip Island will have Harris frames (yes, the same Harris who designed the frame for the RE Continental GT on the cover).
There’ll be outfit racing as well – close your eyes as they tear down the straight flat out towards corner one…
Camping was introduced in 2013 and you’ll be able to camp again in 2014. Practice starts on Friday 24 with racing on the Saturday and Sunday. A three-day adult pass is $70 with the price for Saturday alone being $30 and Sunday being $45. You’ll still see all the bikes and riders if you just go on Friday and the admission price for that day is only $15.
Children under 15 are free when accompanied by a paying adult and concession prices are available.
Camping costs an additional $70 from Thursday to Sunday and $55 if you just camp on the weekend. These prices apply only if you pre-book. Camping prices at the gate are $85 for the whole event and $70 for Saturday/Sunday.
For further information, call the Island Classic hotline on (03) 5952 2710 or email email@example.com