Features 30 Jan 2018

Catching Up: David Johnson

International Island Classic standout on his success at Phillip Island.

Words: Russell Colvin

The 2018 International Island Classic at Phillip Island will largely be remembered for the performance of South Australian international David Johnson, leading Team Australia to the Island Challenge victory with two race wins and picking up the Ken Wootton Perpetual Trophy as a result. CycleOnline.com.au spoke with the 35-year-old about his success aboard the DMR Motorsport 1982 Suzuki XR69 1100 post-race.

Image: Russell Colvin.

What an absolute cracker of a weekend it has been for you. It’s a shame you couldn’t get the win in that last race, but can you round it up for us?

Well, I sure was trying in that one. Jeremy [McWilliams] had much better pace than me in that race and got a better start than in race three. He was right behind me and I could see it on my lap-board the whole time, so I was just waiting for him to come past me on the straight, as that is where he was faster than me. On top of that, my rear tyre screamed enough in that race. We should have gone with a softer tyre, as the softer tyre actually absorbs the heat better. I just didn’t have any grip in the entry, mid-corner or exit. It wasn’t bad, as we were doing 37s, but when Jeremy came past I had nothing for him.

While you are part of the Aussie team, which have won, you of course claimed the Ken Wootton Perpetual Trophy. For you, personally, what does it mean to win it?

I knew Ken very well – we were actually going to meet up when he was in Europe in 2011. Ken was a great mate of mine and in fact he helped me to get here to race at the Island Classic. I forget what bike it was when I first raced here, but it was Ken who got me here, so to win the Ken Wootton Perpetual Trophy means a lot.

You were leading most of race four with Jeremy snapping at your heels. When he did get by on the run into Doohan Corner, did you still know that you would win overall?

I knew if I came second in race four that I would have won the overall, but I still wanted to the race and beat Jeremy, though he was the better man in that race, so hats off to him.

Image: Russell Colvin.

You have done some pretty cool stuff in your motorcycle racing career, so where would this weekend and the race wins rank in your eyes?

It’s been my best win of the classics definitely and one of my best-ever was race three today, when I won by four seconds, because that was simply unreal.

The question must be asked, will we see Dave Johnson back at the 2019 International Island Classic?

Sure will! Tom Dermody and I have done a deal and we will be doing it again and on the Suzuki XR69. We’ll be back and Paul [Byrne] will be my teammate again, so I think we will be a force to be reckoned with.