The countdown is on for the three-nation International Challenge showdown, with New Zealand today unveiling its squad to take on Australia and Team USA at the International Island Classic on 25-27 January.
New Zealand has capitalised on their long-term relationship with gun racer Alex Phillis and the Taupo-based Carl Cox Motorsport – the motorsport arm of international DJ Carl Cox – to strengthen its ranks against defending champion Australia and Team USA.
Carl Cox’s Kiwi outfit brings with him three-time British superbike champion John Reynolds, ‘modern’ and classic racer Jay Lawrence, and Michael Neeves.
New Zealand has also sought dispensation for two 1985 Suzuki GSX-Rs for the Carl Cox camp to run, with approvals being given this week by team captains from arch rivals Australia and the USA.
One year outside the Island Classic eligibility, the two Suzukis will be subject to agreed performance restrictions – comprising of a reduction in RPM limit, an overall weight increase and a reduced rear tyre width to eliminate any possible traction advantage.
To be campaigned by Reynolds and Neeves, the duo’s performance will be counted in International Challenge points, but not in the tally for the Ken Wootton Perpetual Trophy that’s awarded to the rider with the highest individual points.
The team features seven riders who rode for New Zealand at the 2018 International Challenge, including team captain Duncan Coutts, Brendan Wilson, Glenn Hindle, Roger Gunn, Simon Richards, Matt Ineson and Campbell Stevenson. Pete Byers, Peter Jones, Glenn Crutchley and Dean Castleton make up the 15-rider list.
Australia’s team includes David Johnson, Shawn Giles, Steve Martin, Cameron Donald, Beau Beaton and Jed Metcher, while America has bolstered its stocks with four-time AMA superbike champion Josh Hayes, Steve Rapp, Mark Miller, Dale Quarterley and Larry Pegram, who will join 2018 fast man Jason Pridmore.
In a first for the International Challenge, the 2019 event will be filmed and made into a two-hour television program set to be broadcast around the globe. Screen agreements have been reached with networks in Europe, UK, America, Asia, New Zealand and Australia. Locally, the event will be screened on Fox Sports and SBS in February.