International Challenge heats up ahead of Phillip Island event.
The final pieces have fallen into place for the 25th International Island Classic at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on the Australia Day long weekend, with America and New Zealand naming their teams for the showpiece MV Agusta International Challenge event.
America has signalled that it’s not going to be an easy beat in 2018, with not only World Superbike and MotoGP superstar Colin Edwards joining the team, but AMA stars Jason Pridmore and Jake Zemke also making their debuts as well.
The addition of the highly-rated trio adds even more intrigue into the International Challenge, with Australia also drafting in double WorldSBK champion Troy Corser to help out its cause, while defending champion United Kingdom has bolstered its ranks with some star British superbike and Isle of Man talent.
Edwards, 43, hardly requires any introduction, with a stellar WorldSBK career producing two titles for the Texan followed by 12 years in MotoGP where he finished on the podium 12 times. He will ride a Suzuki XR69 in the International Challenge.
Zemke and Pridmore, who are now both retired, won titles during a period when American domestic racing was extremely cut-throat. Zemke twice finished third in the AMA Superbike title and it took riders the calibre of Aussie Mat Mladin and Ben Spies to beat him. Pridmore is also a World Endurance champion.
Meanwhile, Dave Crussell, the talented Barrett Long and Aussie-based Robert Ruwoldt return from duty with the 2018 American International Challenge team, while the other new faces are Martin Morrison and Ed Haazer. Crussell also moonlights as the team captain.
New Zealand has been an International Challenge staple since the concept was inaugurated in 2005 and in 2018 its team will feature Island Classic stalwart Damien Kavney, multiple Australian historic champion Glenn Hindle, Simon Richards, team captain Duncan Coutts, Trevor Taylor, Kerry Wilton, Alistair Wilton and Mat Ineson.
ANZAC pride will also be on the line for New Zealand and Australia in the International Challenge as they battle it out in the FIM Oceania Historic Road Race Cup. All team points accumulated in the International Challenge will also count towards the team’s Oceania score.
The Island Classic will begin with qualifying and racing on Friday, 28 January, followed by two full days of racing from 9:00am on Saturday and Sunday between 27-28 January on a massive variety of historic machines from pre-WW1 up to 1990. Tickets are on sale at www.islandclassic.com.au.