Phillip Island Classic
International Island Classic
25-27 January, 2019 – Phillip Island GP Circuit, Vic.
Although the Great Britain team was missing, the 2019 running of the International Classic at Phillip Island was a cracking event, with some outstanding performances and superb racing across most classes. The headline event drew teams from defending holders Australia, USA and New Zealand. 4-times AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes led the US team, and improved with every lap, finally snatching a win in the fourth and final encounter. In qualifying, it was 26-year old Aaron Morris, from Newcastle, who claimed pole position on a Suzuki Katana, and he maintained the form to take out race one on Saturday from Jed Metcher and Hayes. However this opening encounter was red-flagged and restarted after a huge accident at Turn 11 when US team star Jason Pridmore high-sided from his Yamaha, which was then struck by Beau Beaton on the Irving Vincent. Pridmore received multiple leg and shoulder injuries while Beaton, who was thrown heavily into the gravel trap, had lower back injuries. Both were air-lifted to Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. In Race Two it was Morris again after hunting down Hayes, and it became an allAustralian podium with Steve Martin and Paul Byrne filling the placings. It looked like Morris would be untouchable in Sunday’s encounters, but his Suzuki was beset with gearbox issues, as was David Johnson’s Harris/Suzuki XR69. Morris’ misfortune saw Martin grab the win ahead of fellow seasoned campaigner Shawn Giles and a limping Morris. The final encounter saw Hayes hit his straps, finish four seconds clear of Martin, with Alex Phillis, riding for the NZ team in third. The result gave Australia the overall win with 676 points, from USA (634) and NZ (460). Top point scorer Steve Martin took out the annual Ken Wootton Perpetual Trophy from Morris, with Hayes and Giles tied for third.
Of course, there is more to this meeting than the International Challenge, and there were plenty of outstanding performances in other classes. Unfortunately, the Sidecars were not on the program due to insufficient entries. In the 500 Classic class, American Tim Joyce, multiple AHRMA 500 champion on compatriot Maurice Candy’s highly-developed Manx Norton, took on ‘seventies star
Australian team members celebrate winning the 2019 International Challenge.
Aaron Morris starred in the opening two International encounters, only to have the gearbox of his Katana break.