This marked the 3rd year in a row Team Tiger would attend the AMCN International Island Classic over the Australia Day long weekend, January 22-25. The trip down to Phillip Island becoming somewhat of an annual pilgrimage for the team, the Phillip Island circuit is quite majestic to ride with it’s flowing corners and high speed. As they did in 2014, Team Tiger was joining forces with other members of the Motorcycle Sportsmen of Queensland to create a super team of 7 riders with 11 bikes (6 x CBR250RR and 5 x VFR400). The three Team Tiger riders of Simon Dickson, Gary Dickson and Kieran McGeown are joined by Tony Carroll, Jeff Duke, Michael ‘Mojo’ Webb and newcomer Wadi Nadzri.
A truck was hired from Gold Coast Truck Rentals, the bikes all crated up, the loading process running smoother with most of the guys having been a part of last years adventure. This year Lance Duke (father of Jeff Duke) was handling the driving of the truck down and back, and he did an excellent job. The unpacking went smoothly and all bike were out of the truck and out of their crates with only last minute adjustments to be taken care of on the practise day Thursday.
The Thursday practise sessions were busy with plenty of bikes on the circuit, however it gave the guys a chance to get used to how wide, smooth and fast Phillip Island Circuit is compared to Morgan Park where the crew do most of their riding.
The grid groups for the meeting were very good. Previously the period 6 250’s and up to 500cc groups had been tacked on with other groups where there was space. This year the Period 6 250cc bikes had their own grid – with 37 of them entered! Not only did they have their own grid but they were split into Production and non Production groups. With 12 GP bikes and 25 Production bikes the line up was fantastic and the competition was to be fierce. The Period 6 up to 500cc grid was only shared with Period 4 500cc bikes, with 22 Period 6 bikes and 13 Period 4’s the guys were looking forward to taking on some very fast locals. The event schedule showed 4 races for each class, and each race was to be a 4 lap sprint.
Qualifying on Friday started well, with fantastic weather! However in the second 250cc session it all went pear shaped. Jeff Duke was on his out lap and another rider looked to be riding past his limit, looking for a tow from Jeff. However on the way into turn 12 Jeff encountered a group of bikes going slowly, with them on the racing line through turn 12 he had no option but to slow for them, with 15 minute qualifying session there was plenty of time to try and get a clear lap to set down a good time. Unfortunately for Jeff the rider following displayed no situational awareness and drove straight into him. The result – 5 broken ribs, broken sternum and detached lung. Jeff’s weekend was over, he was transported to hospital, and then transferred into one of the bigger Melbourne hospitals.
250cc Qualifying ended with Simon as the top 250 Production bike in 3rd, Jeff’s time from his First session was good enough to be the second fastest Production bike in 6th. Tony was clearly getting accustomed to the 250 and ended 9th fastest Production 250, 15th on the grid. Mojo put his 250 13th of the Production bikes, 20th on the grid. Kieran was getting used to some new handle bars and was 18th of the Production bikes in 27th. Gary claimed 19th Production in 29th.
The 500cc qualifying sessions contained less drama, Simon closed in on his best lap time from last year to claim 9th, pipping Tony in 10th by a couple of hundredths of a second. Mojo took 13th, with Wadi hot on his tail in 14th. Kieran managed to lap a couple of tenths quicker on his 250cc than Gary on the borrowed 400, the pair claiming 21st and 22nd respectively. Saturday arrived and with it the best weather Phillip Island was capable of!
The first race was Wadi in the Period 6 750cc class. He had a big moment coming out of turn 12 but managed to hold it together and from then on his rides in the 750cc class were used for the extra track time, and taking few risks.
The first 250cc race saw Simon set a new PB and lap record of 1:53.299 on his way to claiming 3rd outright, and top of the 250 Production bikes. Tony stepped up his efforts and pushed his way through to 4th of the Production bikes with a new PB of 1:58.195. Mojo was next across the line as the 5th 250 Production bike and also set a new PB – 1:58.445. Kieran also breached the 2 minute mark with a best lap of 1:59.028 on his way to claim 7th, amazingly he recorded a top speed of 198 through the speed trap, 8KM/H faster than the last years highest – also set by Kieran. Gary brought it home safely in 16th, another crash will have him in serious trouble with his wife!
“I didn’t do a great job in qualifying, so while I have the pace to be able to pass quite a few riders, it is allowing the group ahead to open up some space on me as I work my way forward. I did manage to get a fantastic slip stream down the straight from a faster bike and absolutely destroyed the teams previous highest speed on a CBR250RR – by 8km/h. There are a few riders that take some ‘interesting’ lines that I’m having to ensure I keep a safe distance from them when finding my way past. On the last lap I was going around a bike through turn 12, and the rider got distracted by a bike up ahead going off track, he decided to follow the other bike even though the corner speed he was carrying in no way warranted leaving the bitumen. This forced me out onto the grass, 6th gear on the grass is a bit more excitement than I bargained for, but I came out alive and upright!” – Kieran McGeown
After the race was completed Simon, Tony, Mojo and Gary were informed that the fork caps on their bikes changed the appearance of the forks (different profile and a preload adjuster). This breach meant their bikes were not within the Production rules, as such they were moved into the non production class against the much faster and lighter GP bikes. Changing the fork caps would allow them to change back to the production class, however their points from race 1 would not move with them. A bitter pill to swallow, however the team will ensure they adhere to all production rules, no matter how seemingly insignificant. The only silver lining was that the new 250 Production class leader was Glenn Chandler also from the Motorcycle Sportsmen of Queensland, and also riding a Honda CBR250RR. On the Friday a number of other competitors were informed they were running illegal wheels, some changed to legal wheels, other opted to stay in the non-Production class. The grid was now split with 16 Production bikes and 20 GP/non-Production bikes.
Race 1 in the 500cc class brought delight for Simon and Tony who both lapped under the 1:50 mark. Simon claimed 5th in class and set a best lap of 1:49.773. Tony finished 7th but set the fastest lap anyone in the group would do over the weekend, a 1:49.651. Wadi and Mojo enjoyed a close battle, Wadi getting the edge and claiming 9th, leaving Mojo in 10th. Kieran made his way up to 13th of the Period 6 bikes, breaking the 2 min mark with a best lap of 1:59.498. Gary continued to get used to the VFR400 and claimed 16th.
“It was a bit disappointing that I could not run the same times as the lead pack. I will need to get a bit more staring practice, this bike has always been a little hard to get off the line. With only 4 laps in a race it was paramount to be in the lead pack from the get go. By taking half a lap to get to the lead of the second pack I was making it too hard to catch and pass the riders in the lead pack before the 4 lap race was over. Next year I will aim to qualify a little closer to the front, and get off the line quicker. Overall I am happy with the race as it shows massive improvement in my lap times.” – Tony Carroll
250cc race 2 saw Simon take the win after the leader crashed out on the final corner, unfortunately the race was red flagged and results from the second last lap were used, relegating Simon back to 2nd. Kieran worked his magic through the field to end up 12th (7th of the Production bikes) . Mojo ended 6th of the GP bikes in 16th. Tony 3 places later in 19th (9th in class), and Gary hot on his tail in 20th (10th of the GP bikes).
“Race Two was great fun. I got a great start and was side by side with Kieran McGowan through Stoner Corner. After Tony Carroll slipped by me into Siberia I managed to get past him on the way out. He bravely came past me again on the ripple strip on the outside of Turn Twelve. From there we tried to thread our way through some more powerful 2-strokes. Tony eventually did a better job of that than I did and he pulled a gap on me, but the race was then red-flagged. It was great to be closer to Tony this year after watching him disappear last year!” – Michael ‘Mojo’ Webb
Race 2 in the 500cc class saw Simon finish in the pack battling for 2nd place. His bike was running out of fuel on the run to the line, losing a position from 5th to 6th. Tony claimed 8th, unable to get past a Period 4 bike and loosing the tow of the pack. Wadi and Mojo had a repeat of race 1, finishing 9th and 10th respectively, Wadi setting his best lap of the weekend in the race – 1:54.282. Kieran continued to ignore his displacement disadvantage and claimed 14th, ahead of Gary in 15th.
“This was a great race. I was feeling more and more comfortable to push harder to get my speed up but for me the best part of this race was beating Gary, especially because he was on the 400. Never a more satisfying moment!” – Kieran McGeown
Sunday arrived and with it more wind! Race 3 for the 250cc class saw Simon battling for the lead and taking 2nd over the 4 laps. Tony managed to work his way up to 4th in class (7th across the line). Mojo took 7th, and was the 10th bike to finish. Kieran was finding his way through the throng, a better qualifying position would have gone a long way, 5th of the production bikes and 12th finisher. Gary suffered a chain failure, very disappointing as it was a new chain for the meeting.
“I pushed hard from the start and managed to overtake the 3 bikes in front of me into Southern Loop on the first lap. I was hoping to break away but I could not make enough space in the corners to keep Alan Johnston from blasting back past me on the straight parts. I’m really happy with the way I rode in that race” – Simon Dickson
500cc race 3 saw Simon and Tony both get away cleanly and work through a few of the fast riders to claim 4th and 5th respectively. The pair were very happy to finish so far forward. With Simon finishing less than a second behind 2nd place. Mojo stepped up his game and got himself into 9th, and also set a new PB of 1:55.288. Wadi staked his claim on 10th. Kieran showing excellent form in the 500cc races and bagged 12th. Gary had a good tussle with John Eastwood (also down from Queensland) but John got the better of him and Gary finished in 14th.
“That was a really enjoyable race, I thought I had Johns measure but he managed to string a few decent corners together to keep me behind. The front wheel bearing or the brake discs are not quite right on the bike, I’m struggling to get it stopped and turned as quick as it should. I’ll be very happy to just keep on travelling as I am and go home in one piece, I’ll not be taking any big risks.” – Gary Dickson
The final 250cc race was reduced to 3 laps. Simon put in 100%, as a victory would have meant outright class honours, however the TZ of Alan Johnston proved too much on the straights. The class winner was Lech Budniak, the red flag in Race 2 meant Lech had enough points that he could finish behind Simon in races 3 and 4 so long as Alan Johnston was able to beat Simon. Tony finished the race 6th in class, 12th outright. Which was enough to hold on to 5th for the weekend. Kieran had a great run, and finished less than 0.2 behind Tony, for 7th in Production and 13th outright. His weekend culminated in 4th for the production class. Mojo spent the race with Tony, Kieran and a few other riders that made the race exciting, finishing 8th in class and 15th outright. Gary engaged in a fantastic battle with fellow Queenslander Jason Allen (Yamaha FZR250), Jason getting the upper hand for the first time, leaving Gary with 12th in class and 21st finisher. His weekend total enough to finish 14th, even with the DNF.
“I really enjoyed that race, I had a good dice with Jason Allen, doing my best to keep him honest. He was visibly pushing hard to stay in front of me, but he held firm and didn’t make any big errors I could capitalise on. Overall the meet has been a success for me. It’s really nice to not get an ambulance ride, after experiencing it in the last 2 race meetings.” – Gary Dickson
The final race of the event was the fourth 500cc race, also reduced to 3 laps. Rain sprinkled down about 30 mins before the race, however the track was clear and the only adverse condition was the wind. Simon again put himself in the battle for 2nd place, taking 4th again, less than 0.1 behind 3rd place. This was enough to secure him 5th place for the weekend. Tony could not get through the traffic to the front group before they broke away, and decided to take it easy and finish the weekend in one piece. Mojo and Wadi continued their battle, with Mojo getting the upper hand to finish 10th, Wadi in 11th. The pair both finished on 45 points, however as Mojo finished higher in the final race he was awarded 9th for the weekend. Wadi leaving his first Island Classic with a top 10 in a very competitive class is an excellent result. Kieran collected another 14th place finish, to give him 12th in the points rankings. A great result considering he was competing on a 250cc bike. Gary completed his weekend upright, a feat not achieved in his last 2 attempts. 17th place in the race and 14th place in the points, capping off a great weekend of racing.
“A clean start off the line put in in the lead pack on the first lap, I tried to make a few moves but was not able to make anything stick on the RG500 of Damien Mackie, I tried to go outside him out of Siberia but when he opened the throttle his rear started to slide toward me and I backed off to make sure I bought Tonys bike home in one piece.” – Simon Dickson
|Qualifying Lap – 250cc
|Qualifying Lap – 500cc
|Fastest Lap – 250cc
|Fastest Lap – 500cc
|Total Laps (qualifying and racing)
|Average start lap time 250cc
|Average flying lap time 250cc
|Average start lap time 500cc
|Average flying lap time 500cc
|Qualifying Position – 250cc
|Qualifying Position – 500cc
|Best Finish – 250cc
|Best Finish – 500cc
|Final Position – 250cc
|Points – 250cc
|Final Position – 500cc
|Points – 500cc
*Wadi competed in the 750cc class not 250cc.
Overall the meeting was thoroughly enjoyed by all who didn’t break bones. The support crew was fantastic and all the riders wish to thank everyone who drove, cooked meals, looked after kids, crated bikes and uncrated bikes, loaded and unloaded the truck, put tyre warmers on and take them off, and for the great photos taken in the pits and on the track. Congratulations to Glenn Chandler, also from the Motorcycle Sportsmen of Queensland for taking out the Period 6 250 Production class.
Onboard with Simon for the 250cc races:
Onboard with Simon 500cc races:
Complete results available on the Computime website.