The Island Classic is an annual vintage motorcycle festival held at the iconic Phillip Island circuit in Australia, and its headlining event is the International Challenge teams competition for bikes manufactured between 1973 and 1984. In years past, the event has been dominated by British and Australian teams, as American efforts have been thus far only modestly supported.
However, we expect more illustrious results at the 2018 Australian Motorcycle News International Island Classic to be held January 28-28, when Colin Edwards will compete aboard an XR69-replica chassis powered by a Yamaha FJ engine, a package built by our friend Carry Andrew in his HyperCycle race shop. Andrew has built championship-winning racebikes and helmed the first team to field roadracing legend Nicky Hayden in the AMA Supersport series when the Kentucky Kid was just 16 years old.
“First off, I’m not coming out of retirement by any means,” the Texas Tornado said to the event’s organizers. “However, Phillip Island is easily in my top two favorite tracks in the world. The town is great, the people are nice, the food is delish. The only problem is the long-ass flight to get there! The U.S. team needs some help, and in all honesty it will be a pleasure to get on the Island and race.”
If you perhaps would like to assist the HyperCycle team and good-guy Edwards with sponsorship or by purchasing an event package, we encourage you to go to this link.
The 43-year-old Texan will be facing some tough competition from two-time World Superbike champ Troy Corser, who will be racing a Harris Honda F1 bike for the Aussie team in the four-race event. Further hotting up the competition will be ex-GP pilot Jeremy McWilliams who has led the United Kingdom team to victories in the past three events, breaking Australia’s long-term dominance since 2015. An American team first made an appearance in the International Challenge back in 2013, and in 2017 finished fourth behind the UK, Australia and Ireland. New Zealand will also field a team in the 2018 International Challenge.
“My thoughts about racing a classic bike are a big fat question mark,” said Edwards, a double WorldSBK champion and veteran MotoGP rider. “The last few years I’ve only ridden the best Yamaha MotoGP bike testing for Michelin. Does this bike have traction control?” he joked.
Organizers expect the Island Classic to draw more than 500 classic bikes and 300 riders racing in what will be the event’s 25th commemorative year. The three-day Australia Day long weekend extravaganza features 56 races from Friday, January 26 to Sunday, January 28. All races are between four and six laps and feature bikes from pre-WW1 through to Vintage (1920-1945), Classic and Post Classic (from 1946 to 1972), and the more recent Forgotten Era and New Era classes. Sidecars will also join solos on the program.
“January’s Island Classic is a true celebration of 25 great years of racing,” said Fergus Cameron, Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit Managing Director. “We’ll have over 500 machines here, all in such incredible nick. Some bikes are 70 years old, but they still race at the circuit, one of the most demanding tracks in the world, and put on a great show.”
Since Edwards’ retirement from MotoGP in 2014, he has kept busy with Michelin tire testing and operating his Texas Tornado Boot Camp, which trains riders at his ranch in Texas on Yamaha TT-R125s. In addition to training on dirt courses, Edwards has added a small paved circuit to the 20-acre complex.
“TTBC just had its first run of asphalt schooling,” Edwards commented. “We used a newly built go-kart track and had an absolute blast, and I’m now trying to figure out what camps to offer it on again next year. And between TTBC and farm life, I still wear the same size leathers I did when I competed!”
Tickets for the Island Classic are now on sale at www.islandclassic.com.au.