National Racing

Shawn Giles Expecting A Tough Fight At 2015 Phillip Island Classic

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Australia's three-time national superbike champion Shawn Giles has lauded the intense rivalry between the United Kingdom and Australian teams in the annual International Challenge at Phillip Island, likening it to the "Ashes of motorsport".

This weekend, hostilities will again be renewed at the increasingly popular historic motorcycle racing festival, with sides from New Zealand and America also taking part.

Giles, 44, will again be a key cog in the Australian team aboard his Suzuki Katana, the machine which has taken him to individual glory in the International Challenge over the last two years (the 2014 victory shared with UK mainstay Jeremy McWilliams). It's an event that gives him immense personal satisfaction, but it's also hard yakka at the same time.

"I find it tough, more mentally than physically. I put a lot of mental pressure on myself because I want to win," said Giles. "For me, it's like the Ashes of motorsport with this intense rivalry between the Poms and the Aussies.

"We have to work as a team, and we‰Ûªll have to bat the entire way down the order as it's not going to be easy. John McGuinness will be more clued up with his bike and with the track, and the bikes that a lot of the UK guys used last year were brand new so they have had a full 12 months to develop them.

"For us, Cam Donald‰Ûªs been riding really well so I think he will figure strongly in the mix. We don‰Ûªt have Beau Beaton on the Irving Vincent so that‰Ûªs a shame, but we have Brendan (Roberts) and Steve (Martin), Jed Metcher, Robbie (Phillis) and Paul Young. "

As well as McWilliams and McGuinness, the UK also 'bats deep' with Conor Cummins and Aussie expatriate Glen Richards set to make their first appearances in the International Challenge, and Ryan Farquhar is also a class act.

Giles not only wants to extend the Australian team's winning stretch in the Tahbilk International Challenge to 11 years, but there's also a more personal element.

"I want to win for the Australian team of course, but also for the team of boys that put so much time into putting our bikes together. We are a great bunch of mates, and we all put our thinking caps on, work hard and hopefully the end result is a great bike. But there's some pressure, and often I just have to go off and have a cappuccino and chill."

The International Challenge may be the headline act at the AMCN-backed Island Classic, but for historic racing fanatics there's a treasure trove of bikes to get up close and personal with ‰ÛÒ from pre WWI to 1990.

"Personally, I really enjoy the Island Classic, because I grew up around these bikes as a kid," said Giles. And other people love it because they can really get up close and personal and see the bikes and talk to the riders.

"They get a really good look at our race machines, whereas in today‰Ûªs racing the bikes are in the garage and to be frank they all look fairly the same. But the old bikes, they are really distinctive."

The Island Classic is celebration of history; a nod to two-wheel engineering feats all the way back to the turn of the 20th century. Marques to be represented include AJS, Ariel, Harley-Davidson, Indian, Norton, Velocette, BSA, Bultaco, Matchless, Triumph, Velocette, Vincent, Aermacchi, Bultaco, Laverda, Norton, Ducati and the four Japanese brands, as well as fare from specialist engine and chassis manufacturers.

The Island Classic will begin with qualifying on Friday, followed by a full program of 56 races across the weekend showcasing a staggering 525 plus bikes. The opening two International Challenge races will be held on Saturday and the balance on Sunday. Retired MotoGP crew chief supremo, Adelaide‰Ûªs Jeremy Burgess, will be special guest at the Island Classic Welcome Dinner with over 600 people to hear his tales of life on the international circuit.

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