Superbike Champ Revs Up for Island Classic
Three-times Australian Superbike champion Shawn Giles is the latest high-profile rider to enter the Australian Motorcycle News-sponsored International Island Classic, to be held at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on 21-23 January, 2011.
The Team Suzuki rider announced his retirement from national championship Superbike racing on Monday, 17 January, but wasted no time in accepting a ride in this weekend’s International Island Classic, Australia’s biggest domestic motorcycle race meeting and one of the world’s major Historic festivals.
Giles will substitute for regular rider Craig McMartin on a highly-modified 1300cc Vincent V-twin Superbike in the International Challenge races for pre-1982 Grand Prix and Superbike machines.
Giles’ competition will include former MotoGP star Jeremy McWilliams (Suzuki XR69 F1), World Endurance Champion and current lap record holder Steve Martin (Suzuki Katana Superbike), two-time Australian Superbike Champion Malcolm Campbell (Suzuki RG500), multiple Australian champion Robbie Phillis (Suzuki Katana Superbike), and Isle of Man TT victors Cameron Donald and Irish champion Ryan Farquhar (both Suzuki XR69 F1).
“When I was offered the ride I jumped at the opportunity,” said Giles. “I remember watching the early Superbike races when I was growing up as a kid.
“The Historic Superbikes look spectacular, and they’re certainly popular with the crowds – like a two-wheeled version of the Touring Car Masters.”
Giles’ 20-year career at the top level saw the now 40-year-old race for four factory Superbike teams, win five national championships in Superbike and Supersport, and achieve international success in the Suzuka 8-hour endurance event. In his final outing for Team Suzuki in December he finished third outright with teammate Josh Waters in the Phillip Island 6-hour endurance event on a Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike.
Over 340 competitor entries have been received for this weekend’s International Island Classic, an event that saw 19,200 spectators turn out for last year’s event.
Giles will share star billing with McWilliams, the man who three times out-qualified multiple world champion Valentino Rossi at the 4.45km Victorian circuit.
In addition to Giles and McWilliams, the star-studded 2011 rider line-up includes two world champions, two Isle of Man TT record holders and more than 20 national champions – many with international racing success. Riders from Great Britain, France, USA, New Zealand and Australia have entered this year’s event.
Martin, the 2009 World Endurance Champion and 1999 Australian Superbike Champion, holds the outright Historic lap record for the circuit at 1:40.153, set at last year’s event when Martin claimed victory in all four International Challenge races.
“We’re into the 40s, which isn’t too bad for a 30-year-old motorcycle,” added Martin. “But I honestly believe 39s and maybe even 38s are possible.”
“I wouldn’t go to other race meetings just to spectate, but I always tried to get to the Island Classic in past years,” said Martin, who when he’s not racing co-hosts the international television coverage of the Superbike World Championship on Speed Channel. “When the opportunity came up to race in it last year I jumped at it, and now I’m back for more.”
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.