Three-time Australian Superbike Champion and Suzuki brand ambassador Shawn Giles took a popular victory in the Historic Challenge during last weekend’s opening round of the World and Australian Superbike Championships at Phillip Island, Victoria, on 24-26 February.
Giles was in stunning form despite missing Thursday’s practice sessions, qualifying third on Friday morning before claiming the first race victory of the weekend later that afternoon.
Riding a big-bore 1982 model Suzuki Katana 1294 for the TBR/D&D/Springwood Suzuki team, Giles won Friday’s six-lap affair by 0.633sec over teammate and fellow former ASBK champion Steve Martin, setting a new lap record of 1:38.615 in the process.
Saturday morning saw Giles again storm to victory over Martin to seal the overall, this time by 3.042sec after posting another record lap of 1:37.370 on the third of four laps before the race was red flagged due to an incident.
Thrilled with the performance of the Suzuki Katana prepared by Trevor Birrell and Dale Gilbert, Giles said it was an enjoyable weekend, over 12 months after he officially retired from Team Suzuki’s factory Superbike ASBK squad.
“It was just fantastic to have a ride because I still do miss racing, so to have an opportunity to race a Suzuki from back in that era was great,” Giles beamed. “When I was growing up, that particular bike was brand new and I would watch them race, so to be racing one now in 2012 is really interesting and enjoyable for me.
“The bike is fairly physical to ride – you definitely know you’ve done six laps after the race! Just because there are no fairings on the bike, no real aerodynamics on the bike, you have to muscle it around a little more than what you would on a current model sportsbike.
“Power-wise, it actually feels quite similar to what my first model 1000cc Superbike had around 10 years ago, so that’s pretty impressive for a 1982 model motorcycle. The crowd gets right behind the Historic bikes, they’re just so popular all weekend long.”
Giles’ next outing on the Katana is scheduled for the seventh annual Barry Sheene Festival of Speed at Eastern Creek Raceway in New South Wales on 23-25 March, 2012.