International Challenge Race Three
Images by Rob Mott
Conditions were again quite friendly to both competitors and their fickle machinery at Phillip Island today. Friday’s fierce temperatures were now a distant memory and the cooler weather was also making things a lot more pleasant for the crowd.
A couple of guys not enjoying things today though were Jason Pridmore and Beau Beaton. Pridmore had a massive highside at turn 11 on Saturday and the chasing Beau Beaton was left nowhere to go apart from over the top of Pridmore’s machine. The pair were both attended to by medical staff on the circuit before being sent off to hospital where Pridmore was confirmed to have broken his leg, while Beaton was diagnosed with a fractured L5 vertebrae, along with small fractures to his pelvis and Sacrum.
The Island Classic International Challenge battle though must go on!
After Saturday’s two six-lap races things were tight at the top. The new and improved Team USA had really stepped into the breech left by the absence of Team UK. Still, the absence of a credible Team UK is keenly felt and they are sorely missed.
Ahead of the third bout Australia led the USA by only 15-points. With a perfect scorecard on Saturday Aaron Morris led the way on individual scores ahead of four-time AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes. Steve Martin had been getting more comfortable as the weekend has progressed and finished second to Morris in race two after Hayes had some problems late in the race.
There was really nothing in it due to the tight points scoring system that is used to decide the winner of the Ken Wootton Perpetual Trophy, the award for the highest performing individual rider across the four International Challenge races of the event.
Away we go!
Larry Pegram got a scorcher off the line to lead the field through Southern Loop for the first time ahead of Jed Metcher, Steve Martin and David Johnson while pole-sitter Aaron Morris was in fifth place as they exited turn four. Metcher made a small mistake late on that opening lap and lost a little ground but Aaron Morris had the Katana wound up through the back section of the circuit and round turn 11 and 12 to move up on to the tail of Pegram as they started lap two.
Aaron Morris then seemed to miss a gear or something which allowed Pegram and Metcher to get back past the Katana. Josh Hayes made a mistake and slipped from sixth place all the way back to 15th place with four laps still to go. The fastest man on lap two had been Shawn Giles but the top six were all in the 38s.
While in the the lead on lap three Larry Pegram’s team were informed that he had been given a jump-start time penalty in what would be another significant and costly blow for Team USA. Before he had seen that on his pit-board though Aaron Morris, Steve Martin, Shawn Giles and Jed Metcher had pushed him back to fifth place.
David Johnson’s weekend of woe continued with the South Australia limping back into pit-lane with mechanical problems.
Shawn Giles then put in a new fastest lap of the race on lap four with a 1m37.425 but all that leading trio were now in the 37s. Only two-tenths covered that triumvirate with two laps remaining while Jed Metcher continued to try and chase them down and turn that leading group into a four-way affair.
As they got the last lap board Jed Metcher joined the party to set up an exciting final lap. However, the T-Rex Honda hiccupped on the exit of turn four, causing him to pull the clutch in fearing an impending engine detonation. Metcher was able to continue tentatively, his machine recovering its composure, but his run for the podium was done and he had to settle for fourth.
Aaron Morris had the speed to hold his challengers off around the back of the circuit, but then missed a shift or had some sort of issue on the run towards the main straight which allowed him to be gazumped down the chute by Steve Martin and Shawn Giles.
Larry Pegram crossed the line in fifth, but his jump-start penalty pushed him back to seventh place and promoted his countrymen Michael Gilbert and Steve Rapp ahead of him on the official scoresheet.
Craig Ditchburn scored eighth, Dean Oughtred ninth and honorary Kiwi for the weekend John Reynolds rounded out the top ten ahead of Barrett Long, Mark Miller, Jay Lawrence and Dale Quarterley.
That result should extend Australia’s lead in the International Challenge Team points standings but America will remain with striking distance.
International Challenge Race Three Results
- Steve Martin
- Shawn Giles +0.142
- Aaron Morris +0.157
- Jed Metcher +3.547
- Michael Gilbert +8.984
- Steve Rapp +14.261
- Larry Pegram +4.312 (+10 sec penalty)
- Craig Ditchburn ++16.316
- Dean Oughtred +16.698
- John Reynolds +16.806
- Barrett Long +16.837
- Mark Miller +18.581
- Jay Lawrence +18.916
- Dale Quarterley +23.732
- Josh Hayes +24.283
- Brendan Wilson +27.624
- Scott Webster +27.749
- John Allen +32.902
- Rennie Scaysbrook +38.062
- Justin Mellerick +43.735