The 4.445km seaside circuit is your typical ‘old school’ style track which is made up of twelve turns that lends itself to some of the closest racing across all classes, including the MotoGP™, World Superbikes and our national Superbike and Supersport classes.
Almost every rider, both international and national, regard the ‘Island’ as one of their favourite tracks to race on as it’s so fast and following.
Lap times around Phillip Island are pretty impressive as well in regards to our national Superbike class. At last year’s Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, Victorian’s Wayne Maxwell, who now rides for the Yamaha Racing Team with Yamaha Motorcycle Insurance (YRT with YMI), set the fastest lap time for the weekend in race three by stopping the clock with a 1min32.653. It’s pretty impressive to think that Maxwell’s time was only 3.048sec shy off Valentino Rossi’s fastest lap time that the Italian set during last year’s MotoGP™ race.
This year’s Pramac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix will also incorporate the second round of the Phillip Island Superbike and Supersport Championship. We found out what some of Australia’s best riders in the country thought about racing at Phillip Island and alongside the eyes of the MotoGP™ paddock.
Wayne Maxwell (Yamaha Racing Team): “The Australian MotoGP™ is always a prestige event. It’s the best motorcycling race event to race in because it has the biggest crowd for the whole year. MotoGP™ is the pinnacle of our sport, so to be able to race not only in front of the crowd, but also in front of the best riders and world class teams creates a special atmosphere. Phillip Island is such a challenge. You have to balance tyre degradation versus lap time. Sometimes to go faster you have to park your ego up and conserve tyres. When you have the finish in sight you have to try and sprint to the finish and hope its fast enough. The circuit is fast and flowing. It has a bit of everything, as well as a magnificent view. Lukey Heights is a great corner because there is nothing else like it in Australia. To come out of the Hey shed then flip the bike over into Lukey Heights and over the crest of that hill is a pretty cool corner and always provides a massive challenge.”
Matt Walters (KMF Finance/Kawasaki Australia): “Why wouldn’t you want to race at the best circuit in the world? It’s probably one of the most beautiful tracks in the world and also the fastest! Every time you roll out of pit lane it’s just a highlight to race there. To ride in the support class at the MotoGP™ in front of the international teams is a big thing as that is where we can showcase our talent. It’s going to be good as well to race against the fastest guys in the Superbike class as for the last few years I have been a racing as a wildcard rider in the World Superbikes. The best turn for me would be the last corner, as it’s the fastest corner in the world. It’s such a rush. When you get it right it feels unbelievable, however if you get it wrong, it doesn’t feel so good…”
Daniel Falzon (JD Racing/Caterpillar EPSA): “It’s fantastic to race in front of such a large crowd, as it adds to the whole atmosphere. My favourite part of the weekend is that the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix is not part of the ASBK championship, so there is little less pressure on the riders. It allows us to go out there to have fun and race as hard as we can without the championship in the back of our mind. A lot of riders normally enter the round so it gives you a true representation of where you are in the Australian standing. The track itself, well who would think to build a race track where penguins are! But in saying that, the track is very special, I really enjoy racing at Phillip Island as the whole track just links itself together so well. Turn twelve has always been my best corner in Australia, because I have had a few drags to the finish line and managed to take race and round wins by just getting out of that last corner well.”
Cru Halliday (Yamaha Racing Team): “The Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix is good to race at because it has such a good atmosphere with the amount of people there. People from all over the world come and watch the MotoGP™ race and while they’re at it, they can watch the Australian Superbikes in action. This definitely does help with sponsors. However the main part is the atmosphere. When you go around corners and see the crowd in the grandstand it does feel very self-satisfying. I haven’t been to Phillip Island that many times, so I’m not really familiar with the track that much. Last time I raced at Phillip Island was 2011, so this year will be a new experience for me. I would have to say Siberia is my favourite part of the track. It’s a pretty cool feeling coming into the corner as you have the ocean in the back ground. Where else can you race in Australia and have the sea as a back drop? If you can get a good run out of Siberia it’ a really good feeling as you head up towards the hayshed.”
Mike Jones (Cube Racing Kawasaki/Australian Outdoor Living): “Racing at the Australian MotoGP™ in the Phillip Island Superbike Championship is one of the best races of the year. Just because it has such a good atmosphere with such a large crowd and being involved with the world championship riders and having such a large profile event in your country is what makes it so good to race there and be a part of. I regard Phillip Island as one of my favourite tracks in the country because of its fast flowing nature of the circuit. Stoner Corner (turn three) has to be the highlight of the track for me, because it’s pretty much full noise in sixth gear!”
Ryan Taylor (RTR by Moto Obsession): “There’s only two times in the year where we can display our brand of racing in front of a large crowd. However the MotoGP™ does attract a bigger audience which does seem to bring the best out of not only myself, but all of the other riders as we all want to win in front of a packed crowd. Racing at Phillip Island is a big buzz as it’s so fast and flowing. There really is no better feeling in the world than stringing a good lap together around Phillip Island. The highlight of the track for me would be turn three, because it’s good to pass people on. It’s a corner that other riders least expect to be passed at, so that’s why I love that turn the most.”
Michael Blair (Finson Motorsport): “I'm looking forward to racing at Phillip Island again, as it’s one of the best race tracks in the world by far! Getting the double win at WSBK in the Phillip Island Championship was amazing, so getting another double there and to be able to walk away with the championship would top off my year for sure. I love the fast corners and how it all flows together. So I can't wait to get out on track and see how it all goes. Hopefully we can put on a great show for the crowd who turn out to watch us.”
Mason Coote (RTR by Moto Obsession): “Racing at Phillip Island is like your wildest dream coming true. For me, growing up in Perth it's never seemed a possibility. Now to have the opportunity to race at the same circuit on the same weekend as the Australian MotoGP™ alongside best riders in the world is just amazing. To also be able to race in front of such a large crowd as well is another thing that is really exciting. If this year’s ASBK is anything to go by, the racing should be red hot at the island in October! My favourite corner is turn three. The feeling of tipping the bike in there with the throttle wide open at over 200KM/H is second to none.”
Luke Mitchell (JNL Racing): “Not only is Phillip Island a great circuit to race on, but just where it is situated. In terms of the layout, well it’s a track that just seems to flow on whatever bike you are on. From Doohan corner into Southern Loop, through turn three, all the corners just seem to link themselves together so nicely. The speed also sets the track apart from anything else we have in Australia. On a Supersport bike you are regularly fourth, fifth and sixth gear for a long period of time. While I have not raced at the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix in the support class category, I was lucky enough to be one of the twelve juniors to do the demonstration rides on the Metrakit 70 at the 2008 Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. Just to be able to do that and be in the same area as the best riders in the world such as Rossi, Stoner and the rest was a really big buzz. My favourite turn without a doubt would be turn twelve just because of how fast it is. There is also a rise in the middle of the corner which makes it challenging to not only get the corner right, but the run onto the straight.”
- Russell Colvin
Images: Deus Images