Features 29 Mar 2018

Top 10: International Festival of Speed attractions

Standout subjects from Sydney Motorsport Park last weekend.

Last weekend Sydney Motorsport Park hosted the QBE Insurance International Festival of Speed, an annual celebration of classic motorcycles and competitive racing. We were on-hand all weekend long to experience the event and there were a number of standout attractions. Here’s our Top 10!

Image: Jeremy Hammer.

1. Bayliss rides 2001 world championship-winning Ducati 996R:
One of the standout attractions of the weekend was being able to witness three-time Superbike world champion Troy Bayliss take his 2001 title-winning factory Ducati 996R to the circuit. Pulled straight from his pool room, Bayliss looked as comfortable as ever aboard the 17-year-old machine, decked out in leathers from the same season too.

2. Legends Clash:
Obviously, the biggest drawcard of the International Festival of Speed is the Legends Clash, and while it was more of a demonstration outing, riders such as Bayliss, Troy Corser, Kevin Magee, Steve Parrish and Chris Vermuelen weren’t holding back. In amongst the field was Italian Frankie Chili, Irishman Jeremy McWilliams and British motorcycle journalist Alan Cathcart.

3. Superbike Shootout:
While the hype surrounded the Legends Clash, the greater portion of the event is about competitive racing. The Superbike Shootout was staged over four legs, with the fastest qualifiers from a selection of categories in the mix. Beau Beaton, Aaron Morris and Daniel Birch reigned victorious in their respective divisions.

4. Classic machinery:
A cool aspect of the International Festival of Speed is being able to walk through the paddock and be left in awe of the beautiful classic motorcycles on display. There was always something interesting or cool at every corner you turned, whether it was a pristine race replica or a rare exotic manufacturer.

5. Magee’s Yamaha YZR500:
Speaking of rare race bikes, the Lucky Strike Yamaha YZR500 that Kevin Magee piloted throughout the weekend was just absolutely stunning. The racing liveries of the ’80s and ’90s really speak to me, so I may be a little biased when I say I couldn’t keep my eyes – or my camera – off the bike all weekend long.

Image: Jeremy Hammer.

6. Exotic models:
From Vincents through to Matchless, MV Augusta and Bultaco machines, there was a host of rare and exotic models on-hand. It’s one of those things where you don’t get to see these types of bikes regularly, so it was definitely cool to lay my eyes over motorcycles from yesteryear.

7. Parrish relives 1970s GP campaign:
Former British superbike ace and motorsport commentator relived his grand prix campaign from the ’70s, riding an exact replica of his Texaco Heron Suzuki RGB500. Despite being 65 years of age, Parrish still displayed his form aboard the 500cc two-stroke, laying down a number of impressive laps.

8. Trade alley:
Amongst the race machines and pit setups in the paddock was a contingent of trade stalls, boasting manufacturers through to apparel and parts companies. Being an event of its kind, there were some unique stalls on display, which really added to overall vibe of the weekend.

9. Sydney Motorsport Park venue:
When it comes to facilities and a superb race track, it doesn’t get much better than Sydney Motorsport Park for this type of event. It’s up there as one of the best viewing road racing circuits, which is an absolute plus for race fans and there are plenty of vantage points on top of the viewing platform, situated above pit lane.

10. Corser pilots Bayliss’ current ASBK entry:
While also contesting the Period 5 division of the Superbike Shootout, two-time world champion Troy Corser took Bayliss’ current ASBK-spec Ducati for a test run in the Legends Clash. It was cool to see the Troys ride side by side, especially with one on the new school machine and the other on the old.