Two of the toughest competitors ever to pull on a set of motorcycle race leathers will renew hostilities at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on 22-24 January when they line up in the Australian Motorcycle News International Island Classic.
Multiple Australian champions Malcolm ‘Wally’ Campbell and Robbie Phillis will face off across a four-race format in the International Challenge for Forgotten Era (1973-1982) machines.
Renowned for their titanic battles in the early ‘80s, Campbell and Phillis will join a capacity grid of riders from Australia, United Kingdom and New Zealand.
Campbell, a two-time Australian Superbike Champion (1989 and 1990), will race a four-cylinder Suzuki RG500 two-stroke grand prix motorcycle similar to the one that took the late Barry Sheene to back-to-back world 500cc GP titles in 1976 and 1977.
Phillis, who won five successive Superbike crowns in the early ‘80s before Campbell halted his run, will compete aboard the same Suzuki GSX1100 Superbike that took him to the 1981 series win.
The ex-Kawasaki and Suzuki factory rider, who finished third in the Superbike World Championship in 1991 and 1992, was top points scorer in the 2007 Phillip Island International Challenge, while Campbell returned the favour in the 2008 event.
“I rate Wally (Campbell) as the toughest and hardest rider I’ve ever raced against,” says Phillis. “He never gave an inch, and never asked for one either. We had some great races.”
“It’s great to be back racing again, and having Wally back on the grid makes it even better” says Phillis, who returned to racing in 2006.
It was at 2006’s International Island Classic that Phillis made his racing comeback after a decade-long break from the sport.
“I haven’t had this much fun for years – it’s great to be back racing again,” says Phillis, whose enthusiasm is contagious for those lucky enough to share the pits with him.
Campbell, the elder of the duo by three years at 56 years of age, has lost none of his “Wally Go Bananas” reputation. The Tasmanian holds the outright Historic lap record of 1:41.953 for the 4.45km circuit – a time just 10 seconds slower than a MotoGP bike, but set on a 1980 motorcycle on ‘skinny’ tyres.
Campbell and Phillis, the two hardened warhorses of Australian racing, will face a star-studded line-up in the International Challenge races. Reigning World Endurance Champion Steve Martin (1980 Suzuki GSX1100), British Superbike rider David Johnson (1980 Suzuki XR69 F1), multiple British Classic champion Lea Gourlay (1980 Suzuki XR69 F1), Isle of Man TT victor Stan Woods (1980 Suzuki RG500), Formula Xtreme front-runner Michael Dibb (1978 Honda CBX1000/6) and multiple Australian Pro-Twin champion Craig McMartin (1978 Vincent Black Lightning) are among the high-profile entries in the capacity field.
In 2009 the International Island Classic attracted a record crowd of 18,000, making it Australia’s biggest domestic motorcycle meeting behind only the MotoGP and World SBK events.
“I’ve attended past Island Classics as a spectator – it’s an amazing event,” said Martin, who won the 1999 Australian Superbike Championship. “I’ve always wanted to race in it.”
In addition to the International Challenge for 1973-1982 Forgotten Era motorcycles, a full support program for Veteran, Vintage, Classic and Post-classic solos and sidecars will ensure three days of non-stop on-track action at Australia’s premier Historic festival.
For further details on the meeting go to www.phillipislandcircuit.com.au, or tel (03) 5952 2710.