Team Australia Wins 2018 Island Classic

Press Release | January 28, 2018

Team Australia Wins 2018 Island Classic—Under a baking sun and fierce humidity at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, Australia has reclaimed the International Challenge trophy from the United Kingdom at the 25th running of the iconic Island Classic.

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Team Australia’s highest scorer David Johnson (3) celebrates the win with teammate Troy Corser (11).

Led by the highest individual points’ scorer, David Johnson (Suzuki), Australia completed the four-nation event on 685 pts, comfortably ahead of the UK on 654 pts. America was third on 465 pts, followed by New Zealand (319 pts).

However, there were still some nervous moments for the host nation. Australia’s lead in the International Challenge only ballooned in the fourth and final six-lap race. Five Aussies finishing inside the top 10 was a big plus, while a crash by UK fast man Glen Richards (Yamaha) and the absence of American sharp-shooter Jason Pridmore (he blew an engine in race three) also helped their cause.

Australia’s win in the International Challenge was its first since 2014.

“I’m really happy to win overall, but more importantly to help Australia retain the International Challenge,” said an elated Johnson who hails from Adelaide, but races predominantly in the UK.

“My tire wasn’t enjoying the heat in that last race, so when McWilliams passed me he gapped me straight away. But that doesn’t matter: To be a part of a winning team is what it’s all about.”

Thirty-five-year-old Johnson’s second place in the final race was enough for him to defeat Jeremy McWilliams (Yamaha) by 1pt (158 to 157) in the prestigious Ken Wootton Perpetual Trophy.

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Johson leads Colin Edwards, Jeremy McWilliams, Peter Hickman (60), Glen Richards (75) Paul Byrne (behind Hickman), Beau Beaton (behind Byrne), Dan Linfoot (4) and Michael Rutter.

Johnson’s Island Classic scorecard was 2-1-1-2 across the four races, compared to McWilliams’ 1-3-2-1, while Troy Corser (Honda), making his International Challenge debut for Australia, finished third overall on 139 pts (6-6-8-5). Aussie Suzuki rider Paul Byrne (139 pts, 5-11-3-6) and the UK’s Dan Linfoot (138 pts, 7-10-5-4) were fourth and fifth.

It was a frustrating Sunday for Corser, a renowned Phillip Island specialist, who was forced to start from pit lane in race three after he failed to grid up on time. He then copped a further two-row grid sanction for the final race after another misdemeanor—but a customary lightning start from the two-time WorldSBK champion saw him immediately battling inside the top five. He eventually finished on the tailpipe of British Superbike campaigner, Linfoot (Honda).

“I go away from the line pretty well, but unfortunately after that, I couldn’t go any further,” said Corser. “Linfoot was faster down the straight but I was just going as fast as I could into turn one to stay in front of him. He eventually got ahead of me and I just couldn’t get him back.”

“Overall, it’s been a brilliant weekend and I’ll be back next year for sure!”

Meanwhile, McWilliams acknowledged a lack of consistency for the UK squad in 2018 was its Achilles heel.

“Losing Glen (Richards) in that last race was disappointing, as he was one of our main point scorers,” said McWilliams, who has now finished every one of the 28 International Challenge races he has contested.

“I knew what I had to do—get out the front and fight with Johnson—and the others knew what they needed to do. However, a fair share of mechanical issues has really hurt us.

“Once the Aussies got the jump it was very hard to claw them back. And the Aussies were always going to win back the International Challenge one day—but we’ve been doing our best to stop them!”

Team USA the big improvers

America was the biggest improver in 2018, but its campaign ended in disappointment with Pridmore (Yamaha) and Jake Zemke (Yamaha) unable to participate in the final race because of mechanical problems.

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Jason Pridmore was the star for Team USA. The former AMA Champion had podium pace all weekend until his machine gave up in race three while lying in third place.

Colin Edwards, also making his first International Challenge debut for America, was a big rap for the event.

“I had a blast and it’s been so much fun, even though I had big problems in the opening two races,” said Edwards of the Island Classic.

“But you live and learn, and there’s no doubt we were underprepared compared to Australia and the UK.”

Edwards was the highest individual points scorer for America in the International Challenge in eighth overall, while Damien Kavney (Suzuki) was the top New Zealander in 15th position.

Fans also flocked to the island over the weekend to see the most successful GP motorcycle racer of all time, Giacomo Agostini, who traveled to Phillip Island from Italy with four beautiful MV Agusta classic bikes. Two of the precious MVs he rode to world championship victories from 1966–1973, and the 75-year-old legend thrilled race-goers by parading the original four-cylinder 350cc machine of his 1972 and ’73 titles so fans could “hear the music of the engine.”

2018 AMCN INTERNATIONAL ISLAND CLASSIC RESULTS

Race one: MV Agusta International Challenge

  1. Jeremy McWilliams—United Kingdom
  2. David Johnson—Australia
  3. Glen Richards—United Kingdom
  4. Jason Pridmore—United States of America
  5. Paul Byrne—Australia
  6. Troy Corser—Australia
  7. Daniel Linfoot—United Kingdom
  8. Jake Zemke—United States of America
  9. Peter Hickman—United Kingdom
  10. Steve Martin—Australia

Race two: MV Agusta International Challenge

  1. David Johnson—Australia
  2. Glen Richards—United Kingdom
  3. Jeremy McWilliams—United Kingdom
  4. Jason Pridmore—United States of America
  5. Colin Edwards—United States of America
  6. Troy Corser—Australia
  7. Beau Beaton—Australia
  8. Jake Zemke—United States of America
  9. Steve Martin—Australia
  10. Dan Linfoot—United Kingdom

Race three: MV Agusta International Challenge

  1. David Johnson—Australia
  2. Jeremy McWilliams—United Kingdom
  3. Paul Byrne—Australia
  4. Glen Richards—United Kingdom
  5. Dan Linfoot—United Kingdom
  6. Beau Beaton—Australia
  7. Peter Hickman—United Kingdom
  8. Troy Corser—Australia
  9. Michael Rutter—United Kingdom
  10. Colin Edwards—United States of America

Race four: MV Agusta International Challenge

  1. Jeremy McWilliams—United Kingdom
  2. David Johnson—Australia
  3. Peter Hickman—United Kingdom
  4. Dan Linfoot—United Kingdom
  5. Troy Corser—Australia
  6. Paul Byrne—Australia
  7. Shawn Giles—Australia
  8. Michael Rutter—United Kingdom
  9. Steve Martin—Australia
  10. Craig Ditchburn—United Kingdom

MV AGUSTA INTERNATIONAL CHALLENGE: FINAL INDIVIDUAL STANDINGS for the KEN WOOTTON PERPETUAL TROPHY

  1. David Johnson 158
  2. Jeremy McWilliams 157
  3. Troy Corser 139
  4. Paul Byrne 139
  5. Dan Linfoot 138
  6. Peter Hickman 133
  7. Beau Beaton 126
  8. Colin Edwards 124
  9. Steve Martin 123
  10. Shawn Giles 122

MV AGUSTA INTERNATIONAL CHALLENGE: FINAL TEAM POINTS

1 AUSTRALIA 685

  1. UK 654
  2. USA 465
  3. NZ 319