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Australia In Tough Fight To Defend International Challenge Trophy At The Island

 strip - 25-01-15

Mishaps and misadventure have troubled Australia in their eleventh defence of the Tahbilk International Challenge trophy at the Island Classic historic bike meet at Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit today.

With mixed results in yesterday’s two six lap races sees Australia leading the challenge on interim results over their arch rival the UK followed by USA and then NZ.   The four national teams will face another two six lap battles tomorrow where the accumulated results for the top five riders for each country over all four races will determine the Tahbilk International Challenge winner and place getters.

The UK effort was spearheaded by Jeremy McWilliams on the Harris F1 who took a close 2nd in race one to winner Shawn Giles, and went one better with victory in race two to lead the individual standings overnight on 79 points.   Barking at McWilliams’ heels is Australian young gun, Melbourne’s Jed Metcher on 76 points,  who managed 4th in race one and came through for a second in race 2 aboard the Katana; with Adelaide’s Brendan Roberts third (71 points) and the UK’s Ryan Farquhar and compatriot Conor Cummins, fourth and fifth(70  and 69 points respectively).

Damien Kavney was the best performer for the Kiwis (holding 6th  overnight on 62 points) with Dave Crussell the leading light in the USA camp (9th on 56 points)

But it was a day of drama for many of the top ranked Aussies.  

It started off well enough with defending champ, Shawn Giles winning race one from McWilliams; but the Suzuki star was a no-show for race two when his bike misfired on the warm up lap, and he returned to the pits with electrical problems.  

Cam Donald took a third in race one, but while leading race two, the Melburnian speared off at turn four when he hit a false neutral on his Suzuki, to end the day in the dirt.

Steve Martin’s weekend to date has been close to disastrous, when he crashed his Suzuki Katana on oil in Friday qualifying and destroyed his good motor. The team installed a second, but it obviously was not the goods – with Martin grinding to a stop on the main straight in race one, and pulling back into the pits on the warm up lap of race two.  He ends the day with a DNF and DNS, and no points in the bank.

“It’s a conglomeration of problems that started from yesterday when I crashed on turn one on somebody’s oil. It destroyed my good motor and unfortunately we did not have a chance to fix it, so we put in a spare motor and it was leaking oil and it was not running right,”

Said Martin, the former endurance champion who relishes in Island Classic racing.

“Today’s been very average so we are taking the replacement engine out, and we are fixing the engine I qualified on overnight, so hopefully tomorrow we can have a good race.

“I’m a bit paranoid about oil at the moment, so I’m not taking any chances,”

Said Martin.

The AMCN International Island Classic at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit is the largest historic bike meet in the southern hemisphere. More than 525 bikes will compete in 28 races in final race day, Sunday - with the top riders from the UK, Australia, USA and NZ fighting it out over two, six lap races, to determine the team and individual winner in the Tahbilk International Challenge. Undefeated since the event’s inception in 2005, Australia is hoping for an 11th victory; while McWilliams and Giles shared the victory in the individual title in 2014.

Gates open at 8am with racing from 9am to 5pm at Phillip Island. Tickets at the gate, with kids 15 and under free.

For full results…