2019 Island Classic Interview
It has been a somewhat frustrating time in recent years for the TBR/D&D pairing of Steve Martin and Shawn Giles, but 2019 saw them steadily get on top of their set-up.
Steve Martin went on to take top individual honours across the four six-lap Island Classic International Challenge races, while Shawn Giles finished equal third with America’s Josh Hayes.
Phil caught up with Shawn after the event for rundown on the 2019 Island Classic through the eyes of Shawn Giles.
Phil Harlum: Three-times Australian Superbike champion Shawn Giles, a good weekend but it could have been a lot better without a couple of minor mechanical gremlins.
Shawn Giles: “Yea, I think it was the second race on Saturday, I went to go out and when the bike was fired up by the boys it was misfiring. They had the tank off, actually the plug leads had got mixed up, so I had to start from pit lane. I had to come from last through to 12th I think (it was 12th), I can’t remember exactly, where I finished. Full credit to the team they built a new bike for us this year and a new chassis, Phil Tainton had done some suspension work, I spoke to the boys about some geomoetry and Dale Gilbert built a new chassis. The bike feels awesome, but we’re still finding our feet with it, and the last two races it was getting better and better. So if there’s anyone out there who wants to sponsor us (laughs), it’d be great just to get some time on the track and get the bike better. Overall I was really happy with the weekend, there was a bad crash there in the first race yesterday and Jason Pridmore had some quite bad injuries, and Beau Beaton was involved, so I don’t like seeing that. But for us being able to race this Island Classic, it’s a fantastic event and thanks to Ken Wootton for telling me about it after I retired racing. He said, ‘You should come to the Island Classic’ and I’m glad I did. I really really enjoy racing here, once every year, and you know I don’t race anymore, but once a year for the Island Classic… it’s a truly special event, and I hope I can do many more.”
Phil: This year was a little bit different, with the UK team not turning up in the usual strong numbers, but a very strong challenge from the USA, including a lot of guys you wouldn’t have raced against before. How was it to race against those guys, like Josh Hayes, who won four national championships and only gave up racing just over a year ago.
Shawn: “Considering Josh had never seen the circuit before, Phillip Island is a hard circuit to master and he seemed to do that pretty well. To come out with the last race win was certainly showing us that he’s very versatile and able to get hold of Phillip Island. It was a great weekend and the American team was really strong, so I guess it’s gone from the Ashes to the America’s Cup, and they had a really good strong field. I’m sure they’ll make it even better in 2020. Jason (Pridmore) was really fast, unfortunately he had that accident and I hope he’s better, and I hope Beau’s better too.”
Phil: Take that pit lane start out of your performance, this weekend, you had to be happy with how you’ve gone on the bike. As you said it was a brand new bike, really untested, so it looks like the team’s on the right track and sets up a pretty good strong chance for 2020.
Shawn: “Definitely, I’d love to be able to ride the bike more but the old bikes are getting harder to get parts for, and the boys have got some really passion with their Suzuki Katana. It’s great to see that passion and to see Dale Gilbert, who hasn’t been feeling well, he built a new chassis for my bike, and Phil Tainton who I’ve had a long career with has helped out, and the bike is feeling really good. I think with a few more changes to the bike I reckon there’s quite a strong possibility of doing some high 35s on that bike and it felt so good this weekend. I ran the tyres that I ran last year as far as compounds, there’s new era Dunlops out now and I’ve pretty much ridden Dunlop most of my career as you know. So we’ll see what we can do in the new year.”
Phil: Just on that, how happy were you and the team to see the performance in Race 3 where you had three Katanas leading the field? It’s been a long time since that’s happened. It’s been the domain of F1 bikes for quite a few years now.
Shawn: “It certainly has and to think that we’re riding Suzuki Katanas that don’t have any aerodynamic package at all, we have this little triangular screen, if you can call it a triangle. Where with the F1 you have the full fairing, and a lot of aerodynamics, it’s certainly helps them around Phillip Island but it’s great to see the Aussie home grown superbikes shine this weekend. Hats off to Josh Hayes for showing up, we tied for the overall third and he rode exceptionally well considering he’s never ridden here before.”
Ken Wootton Perpetual Trophy
- Steve Martin AUS 152 points
- Aaron Morris AUS 150 points
- Josh Hayes USA 141 points
- =Shawn Giles AUS 141 points
- Larry Pegram USA 130 points
- Michael Gilbert USA 128 points
- =John Reynolds NZ 128 points
- Mark Miller USA 121 points
- Craig Ditchburn 120 points
- Barrett Long 114 points
2019 International Challenge Points – Three Nations
- Australia – 676 points
- USA – 634 points
- New Zealand – 460 points