News 28 Jan 2018

Australia reclaims International Challenge trophy at Phillip Island

South Australia's Johnson stars in 2018 Island Classic with individual honours.

Image: Russell Colvin.

Australia has sensationally reclaimed the International Challenge trophy for 2018 from the United Kingdom at the 25th running of the iconic Island Classic, today at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.

Led by the highest individual points-scorer David Johnson (Suzuki), Australia completed the four-nation event on 685 points, comfortably ahead of the UK on 654. America was third on 465, followed by New Zealand with 319.

However, there were still some nervous moments for the host nation. Australia’s lead in the International Challenge only ballooned in the fourth and final six-lap race. Five Aussies finishing inside the top 10 was a big plus, while a crash by UK fast-man Glen Richards (Yamaha) and the absence of American sharp-shooter Jason Pridmore – who blew an engine in race three – also helped their cause.

Australia’s win in the International Challenge was its first since 2014. Johnson’s second place in the final race was enough for him to defeat Jeremy McWilliams (Yamaha) by one point in the prestigious Ken Wootton Perpetual Trophy.

Johnson’s scorecard was 2-1-1-2 across the four races, compared to McWilliams’ 1-3-2-1, while Troy Corser (Honda), making his International Challenge debut for Australia, finished third overall on 139 with 6-6-8-5 results. Aussie Suzuki rider Paul Byrne and the UK’s Dan Linfoot were fourth and fifth.

It was a frustrating Sunday for Corser who was forced to start from pit-lane in race three after he failed to grid up on time. He then copped a further two-row grid sanction for the final race after another misdemeanour, but a lightning start from the two-time world champion saw him immediately battling inside the top five.

America was the biggest improver in 2018, but its campaign ended in disappointment with Yamaha-mounted Pridmore and Jake Zemke (Yamaha) unable to participate in the final race because of mechanical problems.

Colin Edwards, also making his first International Challenge debut for America, was a big rap for the event. He was the highest individual points-scorer for America in the International Challenge in eighth overall, while Damien Kavney (Suzuki) was the top New Zealander in 15th position.

Italian hero Giacomo Agostini travelled to Phillip Island from Italy with four beautiful MV Agusta classic bikes. Two of the precious MVs he rode to world championship victories from 1966-1973 and the 75-year-old legend thrilled race-goers by parading the original four-cylinder 350cc machine of his 1972 and 1973 titles.

Detailed results